It took Marc Guehi’s headed opener for the Blues midway through the first period to really bring us to life and we duly responded within three minutes, courtesy of Samuel Shashoua.
The wide man was guilty of missing a couple of good chances later on, though, while Chelsea striker Martell Taylor-Crossdale missed a penalty 20 minutes after half-time.
Substitute Kazaiah Sterling might have won it for us three minutes from the end when he burst through one-on-one but the visitors escaped without conceding, as did we in added time as some last-ditch blocks on the goal-line from goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie and skipper George Marsh kept our London rivals at bay.
Both sides came together before kick-off as part of Kick It Out’s Academy Awareness Weekend, recognising the work of Kick It Out and demonstrating young players’ commitment to a game free from discrimination.
We were indebted to Belgian youth international stopper De Bie, playing only his second Under-18 Premier League game in our colours, for a fine piece of goalkeeping to deny Chelsea an 18th-minute opener. After being sold short on a back-pass, he opted to stay in his area and then dived bravely at the feet of Taylor-Crossdale as he ran through one-on-one, getting a crucial touch on the ball to dispossess the forward before scrambling to gather at the second attempt. He then saved well from Harvey St Clair in Chelsea’s next attack 60 seconds later.
During the first half, the Blues looked at their most dangerous when sending crosses into the box and after Conor Gallagher just failed to convert Reece James’ high ball in from the right, they took the lead with one such aerial attack on 25 minutes. Tariq Uwakwe’s corner was nodded back across goal and up rose Guehi to steer a downward header inside the post.
The goal seemed to rattle us into gear and we equalised three minutes later when Dylan Duncan, tenacious in midfield all day, released Shashoua through the middle to round goalkeeper Jamie Cumming and slot home.
Above: Nick Tsaroulla on the ball.
Jack Roles saw his audacious 22-yard effort clawed behind while St Clair for Chelsea and Shashoua for us – twice – were wastefully off target later in the first period.
Striker Reo Griffiths saw his rising shot helped over the bar shortly before the hour mark, but we were let off the hook on 65 minutes as left-back Nick Tsaroulla was adjudged to have fouled Juan Castillo as he went through in the box – only for Taylor-Crossdale to put the resulting penalty wide.
We had been in control of the possession for most of the second period but Chelsea still posed a threat going into the last 10 minutes and were left to rue some wayward finishing, particularly when substitute Charlie Brown arrived in the box to balloon James’ ball across over the bar.
Shashoua shot inches wide for us on 84 minutes but our best chance came three minutes before the end as Sterling dispossessed Cole Dasilva after we’d cleared Chelsea’s corner and raced through one-on-one with the keeper. Sterling, recently back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, took too much time, though, and eventually opted to play the ball wide which allowed the visitors to regroup and clear their lines.
There was more drama at the other end a minute into stoppage time as a scramble ensued right on our goal-line. De Bie saved well at his near post from St Clair who then had a second bite of the cherry from the rebound, his effort blocked on the line by the outstretched leg of Marsh. Brown tried to force the issue with everyone scrambling towards the ball but the defensive efforts of Marsh and Oliver Skipp thwarted Chelsea and the referee eventually awarded us a free-kick, the full-time whistle following soon after.
JOHN MCDERMOTT, HEAD OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT, SAID
“I thought it was a good advert for youth football – highly competitive and played at a decent technical level. I was pleased with our players, I thought we imposed our style on Chelsea, generally we were tough to beat and I was pleased with a lot of individual performances. In the end, after the last 20 minutes, we’re disappointed not to win and relieved not to lose. Both teams had glaring opportunities to win it but overall the way in which we approached it and our mentality was good.
“Jonathan in goal was again very positive, he pulled off a couple of excellent saves, I was pleased with George Marsh playing at centre-half, Oliver Skipp had control of the midfield and Dylan Duncan was good as well but I think as a group, that was possibly our best collective performance. I liked the spirit of the players today and I liked their strength, as well as some of the really good football going forward.”
Spurs U18s: De Bie, Hinds (Lock 73), Tsaroulla, Skipp, Marsh (c), Tanganga, Shashoua, Duncan, Griffiths (Sterling 65), Roles, Bennetts. Substitutes (not used): Reynolds, Dinzeyi, Austin (GK).
We’ve a second consecutive home game in the Under-18 Premier League on the agenda next Saturday as we welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to the Training Centre, kick-off 11.30am.