Fulham’s youngsters crashed out of the FA Youth Cup at the quarter final stage after six second-half goals gave Chelsea a convincing win at Craven Cottage last night.
Colin Omogbehin’s side were more than a match for the Blues, who have won the competition for the last four years in a row, for 55 minutes but crumbled once the unfortunate Jaydn Mundle-Smith had diverted the impressive Callum Hudson-Odoi’s dangerous cross past Luca Ashby-Hammond in the Fulham goal. England youth international Hudson-Odoi, who gave the Whites a torrid time all evening, then doubled the lead with a sublime finish after beautifully controlling Billy Gilmour’s through ball and beating Djed Spence.
Jody Morris then introduced Chelsea’s top scorer Martell Taylor-Crossdale, who scored with his first touch at the near post after more marauding running from Hudson-Odoi. Fulham, who had looked dangerous on the counter attack in the first period, continued to push numbers forward in search of a route back into the contest. Omogbehin sent on Timmy Abraham, the brother of Chelsea striker Tammy, who quickly won a penalty when he was upended in the box by visiting keeper Jamie Cumming. Nicolas Santos-Close went for the top corner from twelve yards, but his spot-kick was superbly saved by the Blues custodian.
Chelsea went straight up the other end to make four with substitute Dujon Sterling curling a magnificent finish beyond a stranded Ashby-Hammond after fine approach play from Gilmour. Taylor-Crossdale still had time to complete his hat-trick, firstly heading home Tariq Lamptey’s floated cross and then firing in a late spot-kick after the full back had been felled by Dan Martin. The final score was hard on Fulham’s youngsters, who didn’t deserved better for their endeavour on a freezing night down by the banks of the Thames.
Chelsea, who progressed to the semi-finals for the ninth year in succession, were simply more ruthless than their hosts. The Blues looked more inventive in the final third throughout, although the first half was a cagey and even affair, with Fulham’s Tyrese Francois twice going close after mazy dribbles from midfield. Omogbehin’s side should take more from their fine run in this competition than the miserable manner of their exit, having seen off Huddersfield, Swansea and Plymouth Argyle en route to the last eight.
FULHAM UNDER 18s (4-3-3): Ashby-Hammond; Spence, Felix (Hilton 74), Mundle-Smith, S. Sessegnon; Harris, Francois, de Havailland; York (Martin 66), Kelly (Abraham 66), Santos-Clase. Subs (not used): Schwarzer, Carvalho.
BOOKED: Felix, Hilton, Spence.
CHELSEA UNDER 18s (4-2-3-1): Cumming; Lamptey, James, Guehi, Mola; Gallagher, Gilmour; Uwakwe, G. McEachran (Sterling 72), Hudson-Odoi; Redan (Taylor-Crossdale 62). Subs (not used): Ziger, Lavinier, Brown.
BOOKED: Mola, Cumming, Taylor-Crossdale.
GOALS: Mundle-Smith (o.g. 51), Hudson-Odoi (56); Taylor-Crossdale (68, 78, pen 87); Sterling (76).
REFEREE: Gary Parsons