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Under-18s lose out to Chelsea

Spurs 1-4 Chelsea (Under-18 Premier League)

Sat 17 February 2024, 13:08|Tottenham Hotspur

Damola Ajayi's second-half strike proved merely a consolation as our Under-18s suffered a 4-1 home defeat to Chelsea on Saturday morning.

Having kept the visitors at bay for much of the opening spell, we conceded twice either side of the break as the Blues took the upper hand at Hotspur Way, Reiss-Alexander Russell-Denny capitalising on a slip by Calum Logan to score after Frankie Runham's deflected opener, with Tyrique George firing in and Josh Acheampong heading home off the underside of the bar within nine minutes of the restart.

Ajayi pulled one back on 71 minutes after his initial effort from Oli Irow's low delivery was repelled by goalkeeper Max Merrick, but the task of producing a comeback proved insurmountable.

It was the second Under-18 Premier League game in a row in which we've conceded four goals and in truth, apart from an early Callum Olusesi shot that Merrick saved at his near post, we struggled to really affect the game at the other end of the pitch in the first period. Centre-back Archie Chaplin made vital blocks throughout the game, notably denying George on a couple of occasions in the first half before a slightly fortunitous opener for Chelsea, Runham's drive from the right angle in the box on 26 minutes taking a big deflection on its way past Carey Bloedorn.

Kieran Morgan fired wastefully wide for us before Chelsea grabbed a second on 37 minutes, left-back Logan's error allowing Russell-Denny to cut in off the right flank and drill home on his left foot. It could have got worse for us a minute before the break when Travis Akomeah went to ground under Maeson King's challenge and the referee, Tolu Sangowawa, initially pointed to the penalty spot, but the tackle happened outside the area and after consulting with one of his assistants, he amended his decision and awarded a free-kick, which we dealt with comfortably.

It was all too easy for Chelsea's George to make it 3-0 with just over a minute gone in the second half, though, the attacker breaking into space on the left before applying a thumping finish, with the visitors' fourth goal arriving on 53 minutes as Acheampong headed in George's cross at the back post via the woodwork.

Chelsea were in firm control at that point but we continued to battle and did well to pull a goal back on 71 minutes. Yusuf Akhamrich's excellent through ball found Irow on the left, his low centre was met by Ajayi, Merrick initially made a smart save but Ajayi was alive to the rebound to tuck home with Ellis Lehane also in close proximity ready to pounce. We had the ball in the net again four minutes from time, Akomeah accidentally turning it past his own goalkeeper from Leo Black's cut-back, but the offside flag had gone up in the build-up and it didn't count. Chelsea applied some late pressure in search of a fifth goal, substitute Chinonso Chibueze's shot hitting the post and King blocking Somto Boniface's effort on the follow-up, with Bloedorn subsequently denying Shaun Wade with a low save at his near post. All in all, it was a disappointing day for Stuart Lewis' side.

Spurs 1-4 Chelsea (Under-18 Premier League)

Spurs: Bloedorn, Black, Logan (Akhamrich 49), King, Chaplin (c), Willhoft-King (Adelusi 62), Adewole, Morgan (Lehane 49), Ajayi, Olusesi, Irow. Substitutes (not used): Archer, Arganese-McDermott.