Without a league game at this level since the start of December due to a combination of overseas tournaments and last week’s postponement at Arsenal, we played some nice football at times but were made to rue some unforced errors as the Blues surged into a healthy lead at their Cobham training base.
Substitutes Griffiths, Tariq Hinds and Oliver Skipp, who set up our second goal, all drew praise from Head of Player Development John McDermott for the impact they made on the game, but ultimately we came up short against an adventurous home side.
Chelsea needed only nine minutes to get themselves in front as George McEachran was sprung in behind the defence and clipped the ball beyond goalkeeper Brandon Austin.
Both teams had shots blocked and Kazaiah Sterling worked hard up front, closing down Blues goalkeeper Jamie Cumming and forcing an error, but the ball fell kindly for the stopper who gathered once more.
Just after the half-hour mark it was 2-0 as Japhet Tanganga was adjudged to have committed a foul just outside the box and Martell Taylor-Crossdale’s low free-kick went under the wall and nestled into the bottom corner.
Despite producing some nice football, we lacked an end product and five minutes into the second half we suffered what turned out to be a critical blow as Taylor-Crossdale got across his man to double his tally and make it 3-0 after a cross from the edge of the area.
We gave ourselves a lifeline on 73 minutes, though, as Griffiths – on for Sterling – converted Samuel Shashoua’s floated ball in from the right at the second attempt after hitting the crossbar with his first effort.
And it was game on with three minutes of normal time remaining as young midfielder Skipp created some space and slid the ball through for Oakley-Boothe to fire past the keeper. There were no real chances to draw level, though, and the game slipped away from us.
JOHN MCDERMOTT, HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, SAID
“Credit to Chelsea, they were very clinical with their chances and they just had a little bit more thrust in the final third. We made two or three unforced errors that were capitalised on and while I didn’t think we were poor, Chelsea were very good.
“In terms of the general play I don’t think 3-0 necessarily reflected the game after an hour but we made a couple of substitutions – Reo Griffiths came on and made a difference, he was dangerous, Oliver Skipp came on and was very positive and when Tariq Hinds came on it just allowed Nick Tsaroulla to get higher up the pitch and he added some more penetration. I was pleased with Tashan Oakley-Boothe as well – he was out just before Christmas but it was good to see him return to a level of performance where maybe he was last November. He’s worked really hard to come back to that and I was particularly pleased with him today. We finished strongly as a group but we were still devastated to have gone 3-0 down and given ourselves so much to do.”
Spurs U18s: Austin, Eyoma, Tsaroulla, Marsh (c, Skipp 77), Tanganga, Dinzeyi, Shashoua, Duncan, Sterling (Griffiths 58), Oakley-Boothe, Bennetts (Hinds 71). Substitutes (not used): Gonzalez-Velasco, Freeman (GK).
The Under-18s are back in action on Thursday night (February 2) in our re-arranged FA Youth Cup fifth round tie at home to Norwich City, postponed from this week. The game takes place at Stevenage, kick-off 7pm, with tickets available on the night, priced at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions.