Chelsea’s imperious unbeaten Under-18 home record, stretching back more than three years, finally came to an end on Wednesday afternoon as a young Blues side succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.
With the South league title already in the bag and the UEFA Youth League Finals weekend ahead in Switzerland this Friday and Monday, almost no risks were taken with players likely to take part in Friday’s Semi Final against Porto. Billy Gilmour and Martell Taylor-Crossdale were the senior faces in a team that also handed debuts to schoolboys James Clark and Henry Lawrence, but it was ultimately brushed aside by an impressive Tottenham team from one to eleven.
The visitors bossed the first half, and deservedly went in a goal to the good when Reo Griffiths extended his lead at the top of the goalscoring charts with a heavily deflected strike, but the game changed around the hour mark when Chelsea were awarded a penalty they failed to take advantage of.
Taylor-Crossdale convinced captain Gilmour that he should take it, having won it, but his effort was easily saved by Jonathan De Bie in the Tottenham goal. The hosts, though much better in the second half, struggled to create openings of a similar quality, and fell further behind to late goals from Rodel Richards and Dilan Markanday.
Scott Parker’s side could even have won by a much bigger margin too; Markanday and Phoenix Patterson wasted good first half sights of goal, whilst Griffiths and Man of the Match Oliver Skipp were wasteful from good positions later on with the contest still only a one-goal affair at that point.
Chelsea, on the other hand, struggled to find their usual conviction and assertiveness, perhaps understandably with so many regulars absent. Marcel Lavinier and Clinton Mola gave good accounts of themselves, Billy Gilmour was a willing leader in midfield, and there was an encouraging 45 minutes for Renedi Masampu on the left, but they came off the pitch at full time a side well beaten.
They are, however, also a team that has made a major historic contribution to the club’s academy. Their run of 56 matches without defeat at home shattered all previous youth team records and, in all likelihood, not be broken again. Under Joe Edwards and Jody Morris, more than three years and in excess of 1000 days passed between a 3-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in 2015 and today’s reverse to Tottenham, and those milestones will rightly be celebrated as they take their place in the record books.
The academy will now head to Switzerland on Thursday in a bid to add a third UEFA Youth League crown to their collection. Friday’s Semi Final against Porto kicks off at 12 Noon UK time, with a place in Monday’s Final against Manchester City or Barcelona up for grabs.
Chelsea: Žiger, Clark (Masampu 45), Lavinier, Wakely (Simeu 61), Panzo, Mola, Lawrence, Gilmour (c), Taylor-Crossdale, Uwakwe (Russell 65), Walters
Sub not Used: Askew
Tottenham Hotspur: De Bie (c), Tainio, Hinds, Skipp, Eyoma, Dinzeyi, Markanday (Clarke 83), Bowden (Parrot 81), Griffiths, A.Shashoua, Patterson (Richards 71)
Subs not Used: Oluwayemi, Maghoma
Goals: Griffiths 16, Richards 74, Markanday 81