Under-18s: Tottenham Hotspur 3-5 Chelsea

For forty-five minutes of this Under-18 Premier League London derby, Chelsea were untouchable.

A relentless blue tide swept everything before it as Tottenham were powerless to resist. A goal up inside a minute, four inside half an hour, and 5-0 by half time; it was as good a team performance as you’ll see anywhere all season, which is why the final score might have left some Chelsea players dejected when they left the field at the end of the match.

Certainly, it’s an unwritten rule of football that the second half rarely lives up to the same quality as a goal-laden first half, and there was some late sloppiness that allowed Tottenham to add two late consolation strikes to the one they’d already pulled back, but nobody should take anything away from a thumping victory that ensured Ed Brand’s team remained unbeaten so far this season.

Anyone arriving a minute or two late to pitchside on a cold and misty November morning at Hotspur Way will have quickly learned of their mistake, as Chelsea were more than quick out of the blocks. Joe Haigh won a penalty with twenty seconds on the clock, being dragged down by trialist Aaron Skinner en route to goal, and Lewis Bate drove home confidently from the spot to get the show on the road.

Even before Haigh had doubled the lead with a header from Bate’s free kick after a quarter of an hour, Brand’s boys should have been out of sight. Armando Broja was guilty of two somewhat egregious misses, but he would get his rewards in fortuitous circumstances, as Dermi Lusala’s clearance ricocheted into the net off the big number nine from close range.

Spurs probably sensed this wasn’t their day, but there was worse to come, as Xavier Simons turned home from Dynel Simeu’s assist to make it 4-0 before half an hour had been played. It almost came as a surprise when Timothee Lo-Tutala saved Marcel Lewis’ free kick, as until that point, everything on target had found its way in.

It was stunning stuff; Bate and Simons ran the show on midfield, Valentino Livramento (and to a lesser extent Henry Lawrence) was untouchable out wide, and Lewis and Haigh ran Tottenham ragged between the lines in attack. Haigh produced a scintillating through ball to release Broja for his second just before the interval, by which stage it was really a question of how many they’d win by.

Not that many at all, as it turned out. It wasn’t for the lack of trying, that’s for sure, but Sam McClelland and Levi Colwill didn’t get quite the same break of the ball, and Spurs defended both deeper and better, refinding their composure and reminding everyone that they’re a good team in their own right.

Tarrelle Whittaker converted Romaine Mundle’s cross on the hour mark for 5-1, then thundered home an unstoppable second later on to take something home with him, while a late penalty for a foul on Chay Cooper saw Harvey White beat Jake Askew to make it 5-3, a scoreline that did little to reflect the flow or balance of much of the contest.

With Fulham dropping points at home to Arsenal, it means the Blues will go top on their own for the first time this season if they beat their West London neighbours at Cobham on November 30th. Before then, though, the international break sees everyone fly off to represent their countries, before returning for a Premier League Cu group stage decider at home to Arsenal on the 23rd.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lo-Tutala, Lusala, Cirkin, Robson (Mathurin 82), Muir, Skinner, Whittaker, Pedder, Scarlett (Mundle 14), Alonso (White 54), Cooper
Subs not Used: Kurylowicz

Goals: Whittaker 60, 81, White 89 (pen)
Booked: Skinner, Pedder, Robson, Muir

Chelsea: Askew, Simeu (c), McClelland, Colwill, Lawrence, Bate, Livramento (Iling Jr 84), Simons, Broja (Nunn 61), Lewis, Haigh (Vale 64)
Subs not Used: Wiggett, Adegoke

Goals: Bate 2 (pen), Haigh 16, Broja 20, 40, Simons 26
Booked: Bate