Under-18s: Southampton 4-0 Chelsea

Chelsea’s Under-18s saw their perfect start to the Premier Academy League season come to a juddering halt on Saturday as they were beaten 4-0 by Southampton at the Staplewood training ground.

In wet and blustery conditions brought on by Storm Brian, the Blues never looked up for the fight, and were nowhere near their best, as goals from Harry Hamblin and Harlem Hale before the break were added to by Christoph Klarer and Michael Obafemi in the second half to inflict a jarring defeat.

Jody Morris was still without several regular players due to international duty and other commitments, but he stuck with the same group that had served him well so far this term, and handed Tushaun Walters a first start after he scored the winning goal at Leicester last time out.

Southampton, though, had a point to prove after losing 5-1 to Arsenal last week, and from the moment Javen Siu cut a shot wide within twenty seconds of kick-off, they meant business. Assertive and first to every ball, they pinned Chelsea into their own defensive third and stopped them playing like few other teams have managed in the past few years.

Obafemi and Will Smallbone spurned good chances to open the scoring but, such was their dominance, it hardly mattered. Chelsea only made it into the Saints’ penalty area late in the first half and, by that point, they were 2-0 down. Hamblin grabbed the first with a glancing header from Smallbone’s teasing free kick, and Hale added the second soon after when Will Ferry robbed Marcel Lavinier of possession and took full advantage of the mistake.

Lavinier didn’t return for the second half, replaced by Clinton Mola in a change to a 4-4-2 diamond shape, but any hopes of mounting an unlikely comeback were extinguished within five minutes of the restart, as they found themselves 3-0 down. Another free kick from Smallbone was defended poorly allowing captain Klarer to steer the loose ball beyond the despairing dive of Nicolas Tié in the Chelsea goal.

Daishawn Redan and Marcel Lewis, the latter making his Under-18 debut, were introduced to bolster their attacking numbers, but a sloppy performance continued to hinder their efforts to retain some respectability. Tariq Uwakwe was off target from distance, Redan couldn’t quite find his footing with the ball bouncing in the Southampton goalmouth, and Taylor-Crossdale misjudged a pair of headers on a day where Alex Cull didn’t have to make a save of note in the home goal.

Siu and Obafemi were guilty of wasting chances on the break late in the day, but Obafemi did make amends with a coolly-taken fourth at the death, and Hale could have made it even worse for Chelsea only to hit the post in stoppage time.

The Blues now have a fortnight without a match and return to action away to Brighton in the Under-18 League Cup on November 4th.

Southampton: Cull, Gardner, Vokins, Hamblin, Bradley-Green, Klarer (c), Hale, Siu, Obafemi (Fleary 90), Smallbone, Ferry
Subs not Used: Ramsay, Parkes, Kozak, Watts

Goals: Hamblin 40, Hale 45, Klarer 51, Obafemi 89
Booked: Obafemi

Chelsea: Tié, Lavinier (Mola 45), Wakely (c), Simeu, Castillo, Uwakwe, Lamptey, Anjorin (Lewis 63), Taylor-Crossdale, Walters, Brown (Redan 61)
Subs not Used: Russell, Masampu