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Chelsea U18 2 Liverpool U18 1 - FAYC SF 2nd leg (Apr 19 2013)

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Chelsea U18 2 LIVERPOOL U18 1

Report by Dave Usher



Scorer(s) - Kris Peterson

Half Time - 2-1

Venue - Stamford Bridge

Date - Fri 19 Apr 2013

Star Man - Daniel Cleary












A spirited display by the Reds youngsters wasn't enough to prevent them going out of the FA Youth Cup to a superior Chelsea side, going down 2-1 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate. Kris Peterson's early strike gave Steve Cooper's side hope they could complete an unlikely comeback, but two quickfire goals just before half time ended the contest and the second half was comfortable for the Londoners.


The lads gave everything they had but were just up against stronger, quicker, better opposition and the 4-1 aggregate scoreline could easily have been more but for some wayward Chelsea finishing in the second half. Ultimately, two bad five minute spells in each have proved to be Liverpool's undoing. The tie was 0-0 until 88 minutes of the first leg, only for Chelsea to nick two goals in the closing stages.


It was a similar situation in this game, with 40 minutes gone it was 1-0 to the Reds and very much game on. By the time the half time whistle went five minutes later it was 2-1 to Chelsea and there was never going to be any comeback from that. There is no question that the better side has progressed to the final though, and there is no disgrace in being beaten by this Chelsea team as they're pretty damn good.


Maybe things would have been different if Cooper had been able to select his best side on both legs. In the first leg he was without Sinclair and Trickett-Smith, they were back for this game but Jordan Ibe and Ryan McLaughlin were ruled out. That made it extremely difficult, especially as skipper Jordan Lussey wasn't fit either but played through the pain.


Chelsea were boosted by the availability of star player Nathan Ake (no relation to Purple as far as I know), who played for their first team in the Europa League last week. He came in at centre half to replace the injured Christensen, who had caught the eye in the first leg with an impressive performance.


The Reds started brightly and Lloyd Jones headed narrowly over from a Lussey free-kick just three minutes in. The opening goal came on 14 minutes when Maguire played a nice little ball down the line to Peterson, and the Swede drove past the full back and cut inside to the area, where he sidestepped another defender before wrongfooting the keeper with a clever, measured finish into the bottom corner.


Just the start we needed, and if we'd got the next goal then who knows what would have happened. Chelsea hadn't started well at all but our goal seemed to settle them down a bit. Maybe they were a bit complacent to begin with and that goal woke them up, they certainly began to keep the ball better and enjoyed plenty of possession in our half.


The shape of the Liverpool team was excellent though, the back four were resolute and the midfield in front of them worked tirelessly to shut down any spaces. Chelsea had a lot of the ball around the edge of the box but there just wasn't any way through, and the likes of Lussey and Rossiter made countless tackles and interceptions to keep Chelsea at bay.


Fulton had little to do in the first half, he made one smart save from a 20 yard effort by the Chelsea left back, but up until their first goal on 40 minutes that was the only real effort they had mustered. It was a great goal though, albeit avoidable from a Liverpool perspective.


Rossiter gave the ball away on the edge of the Chelsea box, but the speed and precision with which Chelsea broke had to be admired. Swift started and finished the move, surging forward and playing a ball down the line to Kiwomya, and then continuing into the penalty area to get on the edge of the cross to beat Fulton with a sweet finish.


It was a blow but the Reds needed to just get to half time and regroup for the second half. Unfortunately they gave away a really soft goal just before the break when Rossiter allowed Ake a free header from a corner. That goal was right in front of the small but vocal contingent of travelling Reds, who had just launched into a Rafa Benitez chant that was immediately silenced by Ake's header.


Whilst the young midfielder was partly culpable for both Chelsea goals, these kind of mental errors are to be expected given his age. He only turned 16 at the end of last month, and his performances on the whole have been tremendous. Even in this game he caught the eye, and considering the level of the midfielders he was up against (Loftus-Cheek in particular is extremely highly rated) it bodes well for the future that he competed as well as he did.


That second goal was a complete killer though. At 1-1 the lads were no worse off than when they started, an early goal in the second half would have made it very interesting, but going 2-1 down ended any lingering hopes they had.


There were no more goals after that, although both sides missed great chances and Chelsea in particular could easily have scored three or four but for wayward finishing, good goalkeeping and poor officiating.


It was the Reds who threatened first though when Trickett-Smith split the defence to send Sinclair through. The striker did brilliantly to cut inside Ake and stay on his feet despite being fouled, but his shot crashed back off the bar. Desperately unlucky, and you could argue the ref should have given the penalty anyway as the foul definitely knocked him out of his stride and impacted his shot.


With 52 minutes on the clock Chelsea put together a fine move that ended with Faruz finding the net. Once again that came as the away chanted the name of the current Chelsea boss, but thankfully a linesman's flag came to the rescue. The correlation between 'Rafa chants' and Chelsea putting the ball in the net was alarming, especially with tomorrow's game at Anfield in mind.


Despite the two goals conceded, Liverpool had generally done so well keeping Chelsea at arms length and that was due to the incredible work rate and pressing of the players. You can't keep that level of pressure up for 90 minutes however as the second half wore on Liverpool's energy levels dropped and Chelsea began to create chance after chance as the space opened up.


The remainder of the game was basically Faruz and Kiwomya squandering chances. Faruz robbed Maguire and then dragged a shot well wide, before missing the target again a minute later. Kiwomya - who'd scored both goals in the first leg - then drilled a shot inches past the far post from a tight angle.


Despite Chelsea's dominance, Sinclair had looked quite threatening and his link up with Trickett-Smith was always the Reds best hope of success. The pair have a great understanding, with Trickett-Smith's intelligence and passing ability the perfect compliment to Sinclair's pace and movement. They combined in much the same way they had earlier in the half as Trickett-Smith once more split the defence to send the striker clear, but this time the finish was disappointing as Sinclair's weak shot was easily saved by the keeper.


Normal service was resumed after that, as Dunn lost the ball cheaply and Kiwomya dragged another shot inches wide after being played in by Faruz. Former Celtic forward Faruz was subbed not long after, but not before he'd wasted another opportunity by smashing one high over the bar. Very wasteful over both legs he was.


Steve Cooper made his first change with ten minutes remaining, bringing on Nathan Burke for the tiring Rossiter. Cameron Brannagan would have been a more obvious choice given he'd started the first leg and is ahead of Burke in the pecking order, but this was clearly a case of the coach giving other players an opportunity to experience playing in a big game in a famous stadium.


Alex O'Hanlon also got a run out when he replaced Dunn, who'd been fabulous in this cup run until the semi-final, when he struggled in both legs and seemed to be trying to do too much. Definitely a learning experience for him, as it will be for most of the boys.


Kiwomya got in once again with three minutes remaining, he got away from Lloyd Jones but was denied by Fulton. Liverpool were really looking tired and ragged in the closing stages, they'd put so much effort into the game and were flagging badly.


The otherwise excellent Dan Cleary was caught in possession by Loftus-Cheek who had a clear run on goal until Cleary fouled him. The ref could have given a red card but given the circumstances that would have been very cruel and thankfully he only produced a yellow.


From the free-kick Baker struck the crossbar and Fulton made a magnificent one handed stop to keep out Loftus-Cheek's follow up header. He was powerless though to stop Kiwomya putting the loose ball into the back of the net. The linesman's flag denied the winger the goal his performance deserved, and replays showed he was onside.


It was the wrong call by the linesman, but it was one of those that are easy to get wrong as it happens in a split second and there wasn't a great deal in it. The other linesman on the other hand has no such excuse for the horrendously bad call he made - or in this case didn't make - deep into stoppage time when Peterson was blatantly tripped by the full back.


The ref should have given it, but if he wasn't sure then there's no excuse for the linesman not putting his flag up as he had a perfect view of what was as clear a foul as you're likely to see. It really pissed me off, it's still pissing me off now as I write this the morning after. Not because it would have effected the outcome in any way, although it would have been nice if the lads had got a draw on the night.


No, what bothered me about it is I just don't know how you can view that incident and not put your flag up, it's negligent. It wasn't a debatable decision open to interpretation, it was just a cast iron penalty and for neither referee nor linesman to give it is unacceptable.



It would have been just reward for Peterson who kept going until the end and who caused Chelsea a few problems on the night. As one of the older lads in the side he was one of the few who didn't seem to be physically inferior to Chelsea and he was able to compete with them. In other areas of the park Chelsea just seemed too big, too strong, too fast.


Lussey also impressed, he covered so much ground and made some vital tackles. Credit to him for getting himself out on the field despite not being fit, he set a real captain's example. Baio also deserves credit for the solid display he put in at right back, which isn't his best position. Those three and Cleary were probably our best performers on the night, along with Fulton too who made some good saves and had no chance with either goal.


Several of these lads will be able to play in next year's competition, in fact only Peterson, Dunn, Lussey and Baio won't be eligible (along with McLaughlin), whilst Rossiter will be able to play the year after too. The experience gained from these two games with Chelsea should stand them in good stead for making another run at it next season.



Team: Fulton; Baio, Jones, Cleary, Maguire; Lussey, Rossiter (Burke); Peterson, Trickett-Smith, Dunn (O'Hanlon); Sinclair:

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