Our FA Youth Cup journey ended at the fifth round stage with defeat against Everton on Thursday afternoon.
Having secured passage by beating AFC Fylde and holders Manchester City respectively, a place in the quarter-final to play West Brom away awaited today’s winner at Kingsmeadow.
The first half was one which saw us cancel each other out as there appeared to be nothing between the sides. Everton took the lead 10 minutes before the interval and gave Chelsea a task to take on in the second half.
A better second period saw Chelsea dominate and wear Everton down before Joe Haigh headed us level with 20 minutes left on the clock. However, a goal for the visitors two minutes from the final whistle would end our hopes of making the last eight of this year’s competition.
From our last Youth Cup game, Ed Brand named five changes. Lucas Bergstrom recovered in time to keep goal, while Charlie Wiggett and Josh Brooking were alongside Bashir Humphreys (pictured top) in defence. Haigh took a space in midfield behind the returning striker Jude Soonsup-Bell.
Underway ten minutes later than originally scheduled, it was almost a nightmare start for the young Blues who gave up possession to Everton almost instantly. Only poor finishing would deny Lewis Dobbin a goal inside the opening 15 seconds.
The visitors were clearly up for the challenge and started brightly so we had to be patient for possession as Everton enjoyed extended spells of the ball in our half. It wasn’t a problem though as we had more than enough pace on the counter to cause trouble and did just that with the next passage of play.
Myles Peart-Harris was unfortunate not to see the ball nestle in the net when he closed down goalkeeper Luk Leban inside the six-yard box. Soon after that Chelsea chance, the game changed in favour of the Blues and Everton were made to defend their box.
Everton strike first
Everton remained a threat on the counter, much like we did in the opening stages, and a quick break sent Sean McAllister racing towards goal. A fizzing shot followed and Bergstrom was worried but fortunately it was off target. However, his next attempt would give us the first goal of the game.
The visitors stole possession just inside our half and moved forward with speed, outnumbering us inside the box. A cross from the right found its way to McAllister, who was unmarked on the far side and he fired past Bergstrom for the opener.
With work to do, Chelsea stepped up their efforts. Haigh and Soonsup-Bell in particular looked lively in the final third, the former forcing Leban into a diving save.
Stepping it up
We returned to play with work to do and attacked well from the restart whistle. Tino Livramento up against Thierry Small on the right was entertaining viewing and on this occasion our man had got the better of his opponent. Making the byline, Livramento crossed for Peart-Harris but his headed attempt dropped just wide of the target.
Everton had the ball in the back of the net again on the hour-mark but thankfully celebrations were cut short. Elijah Campbell turned in a cross unmarked in the box but the flag was raised immediately and we were spared.
Next it was our turn to celebrate, or so we thought. With his back to goal, Soonsup-Bell dug the ball out from under his feet and fired towards an open net with keeper Leban way out of position. Remarkably, defender Sebastian Kristensen raced back and stuck out a long leg to stop the ball from crossing the line.
Haigh pulls us level
The increased spell of Chelsea pressure had Everton on the back foot and Brand wanted to capitalise on that. Bryan Fiabema was introduced and got straight into the action, linking up with Harvey Vale in the box. The latter floated a cross into the middle where Haigh reacted first to head home.
Heartbreak at the death
Chelsea were in the ascendancy and were seemingly the only team who were going to find the winner in the final minutes of normal time. However, an Everton attack in the final two minutes of normal time would clinch victory for the Toffees. McAllister, scorer of the first, tried his luck after a loose ball fell to him from outside the box. Hitting it first time, the ball forced its way through and over the line.
With that goal, we were deflated and there was little time for a response. Our Youth Cup journey has ended at the fifth round stage.
It’s a quick turnaround for Brand’s boys, who take on Arsenal in the Under-18 Premier League next Tuesday morning. Kick-off at Arsenal’s training ground is 11am.
Chelsea Lucas Bergstrom; Josh Brooking, Charlie Wiggett (Dion Rankine 90), Bashir Humphreys; Tino Livramento, Lewis Bate (c), Charlie Webster (Ben Elliott 89), Harvey Vale; Myles Peart-Harris, Joe Haigh, Jude Soonsup-Bell (Bryan Fiabema 68)
Unused subs Alfie Gilchrist, Sami Tlemcani, Silko Thomas, Josh Tobin
Booked Haigh 88
Scorer Haigh 70
Everton Luk Leban, Matthew Mallon, Thierry Small, Sebastian Kristensen, Elijah Campbell, Lewis Warrington (c), Lewis Dobbin (Stanley Mills 26), Luke Butterfield, Tom Cannon (Rafael Garcia 72), Charlie Whitaker, Sean McAllister
Unused subs Jak Stewart, Daniel Lowy, Harry Hagan, Iman Jagne, Jenson Metcalfe
Booked Mallon 54; Small 79, McAllister 90
Scorer McAllister 35, 88
Referee Jason Richardson