Chelsea cruised into the Fifth Round of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday evening after a handsome 5-0 victory away to Birmingham City at Solihull Moors’ Autotech Stadium, their second consecutive five-goal winning margin in the competition this term.
Captain Mason Mount was the star of the show, grabbing a hat-trick, whilst Cole Dasilva and Reece James also got in on the act in what, with all due respect to Birmingham, became little more than a procession after the deadlock was eventually broken.
Knowing that progression would see them host a Fifth Round tie early next week as well as taking recent form into account, Jody Morris made six changes from the team that dispatched Cardiff in the previous round and gave first Youth Cup starts to five players. Jamie Cumming, Dasilva, Marc Guehi, Richard Nartey and Callum Hudson-Odoi all came into the competition for the first time as the Blues adopted a 3-4-3 formation spearheaded by Iké Ugbo in attack.
Their previous league outing five days earlier had resulted in a frustrating goalless draw at home to an Aston Villa side that defended in numbers from the first minute, and that exercise will have put them in good stead as Birmingham adopted a similar approach on their own patch. A constant wave of Chelsea first-half pressure was only briefly halted when City forward Leo Brown went down with an injury that required a lengthy spell of treatment and his early withdrawal from proceedings.
Hudson-Odoi and Mount both had sighters miss the target from distance whilst the latter produced set pieces to give Nartey and Guehi headed opportunities neither were able to capitalise upon. Ugbo had a penalty shout correctly denied when he was beaten to a loose ball by goalkeeper Adam Siviter, who was soon quickly required to intervene at the near post to stop the Chelsea number nine from converting Dujon Sterling’s cross from the right.
The longer the first half wore on, the more the visitors will have been thinking about the Villa stalemate, but Mount ensured there would be no such worries with a quickfire brace before the break. His first was the goal of the evening, picking the ball up thirty yards from goal and dancing his way into the box before absolutely smashing past Siviter to open the scoring.
He doubled his tally as the clock ticked into the first of six minutes of stoppage time, seizing on a mistake by Siviter to whip a free kick from wide on the left into the wide open space inadvertently left at the near post.
The break did little to deter Chelsea from going about their business and, with Birmingham taking off their most potent goal threat in Ronan Hale, the second half would become an exercise in how many Morris’ boys were going to score. Dasilva and McEachran had snapshots from distance come to nothing before the former did make it 3-0 at the end of a wonderful counter-attack started by Maddox and led by Hudson-Odoi and McEachran.
Mount completed his hat-trick five minutes later with a thirty-yard strike that proved too much for Siviter, and Ugbo was very unlucky not to get on the scoresheet seconds later when his acrobatic effort from Sterling’s cross hit the inside of the post but spun back out rather than across the line.
Guehi too had hit the woodwork only to be ruled offside, but he did so again in their next attack, sneaking forward unnoticed to connect with a delivery from wide on the right only to see it bounce back off the post with Siviter helpless once again. As players literally queued up to try to add their names to the scoresheet, it was Jacob Maddox who next came close when Dasilva’s cross deflected into his path, but Ollie Mulders threw his body in the way of an otherwise certain fifth.
Taylor-Crossdale thought he’d done it when he fizzed a shot past Siviter after Maddox had drifted through the midfield effortlessly only for the linesman’s flag to intervene, but it was substitute James who finally obliged five minutes from time, lashing home a loose ball after fellow substitute Harvey St Clair had done the hard work in bundling his way through the Birmingham defence.
Chelsea now host Sheffield Wednesday in the last sixteen this coming Monday, January 23rd, at Aldershot Town’s EBB Stadium, after the Owls defeated Gillingham 3-0 at Hillsborough.
Birmingham City: Siviter, Yuill (Dawes 82), Timms, Mulders (c), Ebbutt, Bajrami, Chisholm, Lakin, Hale (Hamilton 45), Bailey, Brown (Clarke 14)
Subs not Used: Beardmore, Concannon
Chelsea: Cumming, Sterling, Guehi, Nartey, C.Dasilva, T.Chalobah, Maddox, Mount (c) (James 66), Ugbo, McEachran (Taylor-Crossdale 61), Hudson-Odoi (St Clair 75)
Subs not Used: Grant, Thompson
Goals: Mount ’36, ’45, ‘61, Dasilva ’55, James ‘85