YOUTH CUP REACTION: NOT OUR NIGHT
Youth team manager Adi Viveash reflected on the disappointment of Monday evening's FA Youth Cup final defeat and said his players must come back stronger from the experience.
Our Under-18s, defending the trophy won a year ago, levelled the tie with an early goal at Stamford Bridge, but eventually lost 3-2 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate, following Norwich City's single-goal victory a fortnight earlier.
As in that first leg at Carrow Road, Chelsea had several chances in the home game but paid the price for inaccurate finishing, combined with some good goalkeeping and stoic defending by the Canaries, who netted three times at the Bridge before Jeremie Boga scored his second for the Blues late on.
'We were delighted how we started the game and we got the early goal which we needed, and it was great play and a great finish by Jeremie,'said Viveash after the match.
'The crowd were up but then we lost concentration. We had a great chance for Islam Feruz from a great pass from Lewis Baker to make it 2-0, and we didn't take it.
'Norwich went up the other end and we fell asleep from a corner and the ball went in off Mitchell Beeney. It was our mistake for the second goal, we ask our centre-backs to play out from defence but Alex Davey got caught on the ball. I don't know if it was a penalty or not, and I haven't seen it back so I am not going to comment on that, but when that was scored it became an uphill struggle.
'We needed to get the next goal and we didn't. We tried everything in the game, we went to three at the back and we had five forwards on the pitch, and we had two great chances at 2-1.'
There were some alterations to the front part of the Chelsea team with John Swift playing wide on the right and Alex Kiwomya on the left. With Nathan Ake part of the Europa League final squad, fit-again Andreas Christensen came into central defence with Adam Nditi returning at left-back.
Viveash highlighted the performances of Christensen and captain Lewis Baker in midfield as the outstanding Chelsea ones on the night.
'Those two gave top-level performances of which they can be really proud,' he said, 'but it just wasn't our night.
'The Norwich goalkeeper did his job, they got bodies in the way, they had quite a lot of luck in the first game, and they were brave in defending. They came here and played how they had to to win a trophy and we try to play a different way.
'All credit to Norwich, they have won both legs and scored three goals here, so they deserve to be winners - so congratulations to Neil Adams and Ricky Martin.'
Our Under-18s manager noted that over the course of the two games, the Chelsea strike force did not perform as well as the Norwich front three, who took a greater percentage of the chances that came their way.
'That is the harsh reality,' he said. 'All the players have got to analyse it but the fact we created so many chances over the two games is an important factor as well. Scoring goals is the hardest thing in football and we have made it look harder than it is over the two games, and that is for them to learn from.
'Unfortunately most of these players have had two big disappointments over the course of the year, they lost in the NextGen final and the Youth Cup final, and that is going to take a bit of getting over, but they need to come back stronger because the only way you'll know if you have learned from it is if you bottle that feeling in the dressing room which was horrific, you get yourselves together and you go again.'