Tottenham Hotspur’s U18 side took on Chelsea U18 on Tuesday at White Hart Lane in the FA Youth Cup semifinals, but were unable to get the victory at home in the first leg. Spurs’ Kazaiah Sterling slotted home a late goal to halve the deficit, but goals from Reece James and Ike Ugbo were enough for Chelsea to take a one goal advantage into the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have a very good youth setup, despite rarely bringing youth players into the senior starting XI. The Blues have won the last three FA Youth Cups, and five of the last seven. Spurs already know what it’s like to lose to Chelsea; two seasons ago Spurs took a 2-0 first leg lead into Stamford Bridge only to lose 5-2 in the second leg and 5-4 on aggregate.
Sterling has recently been on the radar of Tottenham fans after Mauricio Pochettino indicated in a press conference that Kazaiah would be joining the first team in training next season.
However, in this match it was young goalkeeper Brandon Austin who stole the show. Austin, who played over usual starter Alfie Whiteman, made a number of huge stops, including a blocked penalty, that prevented Chelsea from running away with the match.
Spurs’ U18 left back Nick Tsaroulla heaped praise on his keeper after the match, despite the loss.
“Brandon was very good. He pulled off a lot of good saves and he kept us in the game. If you’re going to be a successful team, you’ve got to have a good goalkeeper behind you as a back four and I felt safe with him.
“I had confidence in him saving the shots and my thoughts at the time were just to make sure I was there for any rebound, so we were pleased with Brandon overall.”
Austin’s performance also evoked praise from Chelsea U18 coach Jody Morris.
“He had a great night but we did make it easier for him at times. There were a few chances we should have put away but there were others where he got down to make an amazing couple of saves.
You get those nights, we’ve seen it before when you come up against a keeper who’s having the night of his life but the fact their best player was the goalkeeper and they still lost the match just shows how well we played.”
The second leg will be held Saturday evening at Stamford Bridge. The winner will almost certainly take on Manchester City U18 in the finals, as they carry a 6-0 advantage over other semifinalist Stoke City heading into their second match.
Tottenham: Austin, Eyoma, Tsaroulla, Marsh (c, Roles 74), Dinzeyi, Tanganga, Shashoua (Duncan 46), Skipp (Griffiths 68), Sterling, Oakley-Boothe, Bennetts.
Substitutes (not used): Hinds, Whiteman (GK).
Chelsea: Cumming, James, Chalobah, Grant, Castillo, Uwakwe (McCormick 72), Sterling, Maddox, Ugbo (St Clair 83), Mount (c), Hudson-Odoi (McEachran 62).
Substitutes (not used): Guehi, Bulka (GK).