Chelsea reached a ninth consecutive FA Youth Cup Quarter Final after a thoroughly professional and diligent display earned them a 2-0 win away to Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday evening.
A goal in either half from Dujon Sterling and Marc Guehi respectively secured another last eight berth for the young Blues, who were measured and composed in every department, barely giving Tottenham a sniff, and looking every inch the favourites they are to retain their title once again.
Jody Morris was deprived of the considerable talents of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ethan Ampadu due to first team commitments, but the depth of the squad at his disposal was well-demonstrated by a comparison to the league clash between the two clubs in December, when ten of Tottenham’s starting eleven featured, whilst just six of Chelsea’s started that 4-4 draw at Hotspur Way.
Sterling, Jamie Cumming, Reece James, Tariq Uwakwe and Martell Taylor-Crossdale were all drafted in to join Guehi, Jonathan Panzo, Juan Castillo, Conor Gallagher, Billy Gilmour and George McEachran in a strong team that began playing in a 3-4-3 formation, but possessed the flexibility to adjust at a moment’s notice. It was the home team, however, who were forced into the earlier adjustments, as they struggled to contain the Blues, particularly down the right-hand side.
McEachran and Uwakwe had early moments of promise come to nothing before Chelsea scored the first goal of the evening after a quarter of an hour. Castillo’s high cross from the left wasn’t cleared properly, allowing Uwakwe to slip the ball to Sterling, who finished with a sweetly-struck effort that flew past Jonathan De Bie in the Tottenham goal and into the far corner.
Sterling was the key man throughout the first 45 minutes, staying close to the touchline and stretching the field in Chelsea’s favour, and in turn causing Jamie Reynolds all sorts of problems at left-back. Scott Parker, the Tottenham manager, swapped his wingers to bring Phoenix Patterson back in support rather than the schoolboy J’Neil Lloyd-Bennett, but when Sterling was covered, James would come up in support. His terrific crossing ability was on display for all to see, twice causing consternation in the home defence, not least when Taylor-Crossdale poked home from close range only to have his celebrations cut short by the linesman’s offside flag.
Indeed, the only sour note of the first half from a Chelsea point of view was the premature departure of Uwakwe, who stumbled awkwardly on the terrible playing surface and couldn’t continue. Faustino Anjorin, fresh off the back of England Under-17 action in Portugal, came on in his place and immediately lent his powerful running in behind to proceedings.
Tottenham managed to settle down for a decent spell of possession as half time drew closer, only threatening through a pair of Lloyd-Bennett crosses, but they had been kept at arm’s length by their visitors and Cumming had relatively little to do. With less than five minutes of second half football played, they had a much bigger task ahead of them, as Chelsea doubled their lead.
Tottenham had actually started the second period fairly brightly, with Lloyd-Bennett finding space but not the right decision on the break, and that was where the positives ended. Chelsea won a corner when McEachran’s shot deflected wide, kept the pressure up when the first delivery was unsuccessful, and established a 2-0 lead when Guehi turned home from close range after Gallagher’s initial shot had been blocked.
Fully in control at this point, Morris’ boys saw off Oakley-Boothe’s frustrated slash well off target before seeking even greater reward for their endeavours. Substitute Daishawn Redan collected Castillo’s hopeful punt forward and jinked inside before Brooklyn Lyons-Foster blocked his path with a good tackle, and James’ thunderous effort from the clever corner routine that followed also found its way to goal blocked by a lilywhite shirt.
With time heavily against them, Spurs began to play with the urgency their situation demanded, and began to properly threaten Chelsea’s goal for the first time. Timothy Eyoma’s towering header was cleared off the line by James before Maghoma’s curler looked destined for the roof of the net only for Cumming to claw it away with a good save, his first of the night.
Patterson was thwarted twice again by Cumming at the near post, whilst another Blues sub in Tariq Lamptey could have extinguished any faint hopes of a Tottenham comeback with his first touch, but the finish was again lacking after more impressive play by Castillo on the left. Maghoma and Lloyd-Bennett had no further luck and Chelsea maintained their run of not conceding in this season’s competition. It’s Fulham away in the last eight for the Under-18s.
Tottenham Hotspur: De Bie ©, Hinds, Reynolds, Skipp (Bowden 85), Eyoma, Lyons-Foster, Patterson, Oakley-Boothe (Markanday 75), Griffiths (Richards 55), Maghoma, Lloyd-Bennett
Subs not Used: Kurylowicz, Statham
Chelsea: Cumming, James ©, Guehi, Panzo, Castillo, Gallagher, Sterling, Gilmour, Taylor-Crossdale (Redan 69), Uwakwe (Anjorin 27), McEachran (Lamptey 85)
Subs not Used: Žiger, Lavinier
Goals: Sterling ’15, Guehi ‘49
Booked: Gallagher, Anjorin