Despite suffering defeat at the hands of the Blues in the semi-finals of the competition twice in the last three years, we were confident and fearless against our London rivals in Tuesday night’s fifth round tie at Stevenage, but clinical finishes from Dujon Sterling and Marc Guehi inside 49 minutes ensured Chelsea's march to what would be a fifth consecutive FA Youth Cup triumph continued with a 2-0 success against us.
After an out-of-sorts first period, we were much the better side after the break but were always faced with an uphill battle.
Visiting goalkeeper Jamie Cumming was kept busy, midfielder Paris Maghoma three times went close from range, TJ Eyoma's header was cleared off the line and lively winger Jneil Bennett almost set up a grandstand finish, only to be denied by a fine save late on.
GOAL: SPURS 0-1 CHELSEA - DUJON STERLING - 13mins
We started confidently but with the rain falling from the off, the pitch was quickly cutting up and we found it hard to string together any meaningful moves. By contrast, the visitors were very direct and after George McEachran glanced a header wide, they took a 13th-minute lead. Left-back Jamie Reynolds stretched to head Juan Castillo's deflected cross away from immediate danger, but Sterling collected the loose ball and arrowed a shot into the top corner from a tight angle on the right.
CHANCE: LIVELY BENNETT CAUSES CHELSEA PROBLEMS - 40mins
After a spell where the game was predominantly played in our half, which included Reece James' cross being turned in but chalked off for off-side, we started to make inroads going forward and finished the first half the better side. With the interval approaching, wide player Bennett produced some lightning-quick footwork to beat his full-back and deliver a dangerous cross from the right flank, Reo Griffiths attacked it but appeared to be bundled over as he did, although the referee saw no infringement and the opportunity slipped away.
Above: Tashan Oakley-Boothe up against Chelsea's Conor Gallagher.
GOAL: SPURS 0-2 CHELSEA - MARC GUEHI - 49mins
McEachran's long-range shot took a wicked deflection off Oliver Skipp but flew wide at the start of the second period before Chelsea doubled their lead on the second phase from a corner. Conor Gallagher's drive was blocked in a congested area but landed perfectly for Guehi to ram into the net from 10 yards out. Jonathan De Bie subsequently made a good save from Blues striker Martell Taylor-Crossdale.
OFF THE LINE: EYOMA SO CLOSE - 76mins
We dominated the game after the second goal, but Chelsea defended crosses well and we had to work for our openings. Skipp sprung Rodel Richards free, but he was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Guehi, James' effort deflected just wide in a rare shooting chance for Chelsea before we almost found a 76th-minute breakthrough. Phoenix Patterson's corner was met by the head of Eyoma, up from the back, but his effort was cleared off the line by that man Guehi once more.
SAVES: CUMMING KEPT BUSY - 80-90+3mins
Midfielder Maghoma was always willing to shoot from distance and the second of a trio of 20-yard shots he attempted during the second half forced Cumming into a flying save on 80 minutes. The stopper saved Patterson's wide free-kick five minutes later and although Chelsea's Tariq Lamptey missed a golden chance for 3-0 when he cushioned a close-range volley over the bar, it remained one-way traffic entering the closing moments. Patterson, Maghoma and Bennett all caused problems for the visitors before the latter's thumping left-footer from the right angle was clawed away by Cumming low down to his right in stoppage time.
COACH SCOTT PARKER SAID
"It was a brave performance. We obviously came up against a very good team, physically strong with good quality in their side so we always knew it was going to be a tough game but I just thought, in the first half, we never really got going and they put their chance away with a really good strike. In the second half it was more pleasing, the boys did well and showed some good quality at times but it was probably just the little details at the end where they put their chance away and we lacked that a little bit. We hit a couple over the bar, TJ (Eyoma) had a good header blocked on the line – if that goes in maybe there's a bit of a rally – but overall we're disappointed that we've not got the result.
"Over the last week we've spoken about having belief. I do feel like we prepared well for the game, trying to release any lingering doubts about playing against a top side that's had a stranglehold on the competition and I felt like we did that. I don't sit here after the game thinking that the boys froze or didn't perform at times or were fearful – I don't think that was the case. Chelsea were clinical with their chances, at times they dominated the game but in spells we controlled it, without having that real punch to really hurt them."
Spurs: De Bie (c), Hinds, Reynolds, Skipp (Bowden 85), Eyoma, Lyons-Foster, Patterson, Oakley-Boothe (Markanday 75), Griffiths (Richards 55), P Maghoma, Bennett. Substitutes (not used): Kurylowicz, Statham.
Chelsea: Cumming, James (c), Guehi, Panzo, Castillo, Gallagher, Sterling, Gilmour, Taylor-Crossdale (Redan 69), Uwakwe (Anjorin 28), McEachran (Lamptey 85). Substitutes (not used): Ziger, Lavinier.
Goals: Chelsea - Sterling 13, Guehi 49.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Richards 82; Chelsea - Gallagher 45, Anjorin 88.
Referee: W Cartmel.
The big cup matches keep coming for the Under-18s as, on Saturday morning, we host Arsenal in the semi-finals of the Under-18 Premier League Cup. Kick-off at Hotspur Way will be at 11am. Next Wednesday (21 February) we're back at Stevenage with AS Monaco Under-19s in town in the UEFA Youth League round of 16. Kick-off is at 12.45pm.