Chelsea U18s 2 (Swift 40’, Ake 46’) – 1 (Peterson 13’) 1 LFC U18s

Goals from John Swift and Nathan Ake ensured that holders Chelsea progressed to the FA Youth Cup final, which saw Steve Cooper’s Liverpool Under 18s crash out, despite a glimmer of hope from Kris Peterson. Following their 2-0 defeat in the first leg 7 days ago, Steve Cooper’s Liverpool Under 18s are playing their biggest game of their lives as they try to turn over a 2-0 deficit at Stamford Bridge. Cooper made 2 changes from the side that were defeated by the current FA Youth Cup holders at Anfield last week. Coming in to the starting XI are Yalany Baio, Daniel Trickett-Smith and the returning Jerome Sinclair, in place of Ryan McLaughlin, Cameron Brannagan and Jordon Ibe respectively, the former missing out because of injury. Liverpool warmed up in the perfect manner by beating Wolves Under 18s, with Jerome Sinclair scoring an outstanding individual effort in a 4-0. The Reds’ opponents however, have struggled of late and in their last Under 18 game, they lost 3-0 away to Reading, meaning that they have only won 1 of their previous 9 games, showing the importance of the FA Youth Cup to the Blues. Liverpool will have to score at least 2 goals to reduce the deficit if they are to qualify for the FA Youth Cup Final. Chelsea Under 18s have a very strong side tonight, with most of them being in the Under 21s. The Chelsea Under 21s team have only lost by 3 goals just twice this season, against Reading on Sunday, and the other tie, against none other than Liverpool, when Chelsea were playing at home, so it’s all to play for.

Liverpool started in an attacking mood when Lloyd Jones headed just over from a Jordan Lussey free-kick. Chelsea knew they needed a goal to basically put this tie to bed so started pressing, this however meant that they were short in defence, and in the 13th minute, Kris Peterson took advantage of this as he picked the ball up on the wing. The Swedish winger then took it inside on his right foot and waited patiently before driving the ball past Mitchell Beeney and in the bottom corner of the goal. This was Peterson’s 9th goal of the season and 2nd in the FA Youth Cup and was the dream start for the Reds. Steve Cooper’s side was now fired up and the passion showed by Liverpool was incredible, especially by 16 year old midfielder Jordan Rossiter, who won 5 tackles in a matter of minutes to stop the frequent Chelsea attacks. The Reds continued to look for their second goal of the game, and Jack Dunn ran the ball in the penalty area and with some trickery managed to get his shot away, but it was crucially blocked by Alex Davey. Chelsea then started attacking and after a deflected cross the ball fell to Ola Aina, whose shot was brilliantly blocked by Lloyd Jones to deny the home side an equaliser. Liverpool’s next chance was presented after a Daniel Agger-esque run from Daniel Cleary, and the Republic of Ireland centre back, was fouled 35 yards out. From the free-kick, Jack Dunn’s wayward effort came back to Yalany Baio, whose shot hit Daniel Trickett-Smith and went just wide.

Chelsea always looked dangerous and eventually got their equaliser as a cross from the right wing found John Swift who beat Ryan Fulton from 6 yards out to restore Chelsea’s 2 goal advantage. Like in the first leg, Liverpool again conceded two quick goals and the second came from Nathan Ake as a corner found the former Feyernood midfielder who headed home a free header to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead in the night but a 4-1 lead on aggregate.

Liverpool needed 3 goals in 45 minutes to take it to extra time, and so started very aggressively. Daniel Trickett-Smith passed it to Jerome Sinclair, who continuously evaded the challenges of Nathan Ake, but his shot crashed against the crossbar to keep the tie at 2-1. Islam Feruz thought he gave the Blues a 3-1 lead but his effort was only to be ruled offside.

Liverpool’s defence continuously weathered the storm of Chelsea’s attack with shots from Alex Kiwomya and Islam Feruz, but when Liverpool countered, they looked dangerous. It was once again the Trickett-Smith and Sinclair combination that produced the best chance for the latter, but his 10 yard shot was far too weak and comfortably saved by Mitchell Beeney. Chelsea were now dominating the game and in the 79th minute Liverpool’s best player on the pitch Jordan Rossiter was replaced by Nathan Burke, as they looked to at least get a result from the game. Chances were few and far between for both sides in the second half, as they game turned into a possession battle. However in the 87th minute, a mistake from the Liverpool defence led to a chance for Feruz but his shot was excellently stopped by Ryan Fulton to keep the aggregate score more acceptable. A minute later, Chelsea had their 2nd disallowed goal of the game when Nathan Baker’s free-kick clattered the crossbar and the rebound forced an incredible save out of Ryan Fulton before Alex Kiwomya, but he was in an offside position.

The game ended with the travelling Kop singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and quite frankly throughout the game the crowd played a massive part and was louder than the Chelsea fans for the majority of the time as the game ended 2-1. Chelsea managed possession for the majority of the game and responded brilliantly from going a goal down and to be deserved winners and show why they’re the current FA Youth Cup holders. The Blues will face Norwich in the final, while Steve Cooper’s men will take this great experience away from them to come back better and stronger next season. Their next game will be away to West Ham, but this time Liverpool will get a week’s break.

Scott Taylor

LFC XI: Fulton, Baio, Maguire, Jones, Cleary, Lussey (c), Dunn, Rossiter, Sinclair, Trickett-Smith, Peterson.

Chelsea XI: Beeney, Aina, Davey, Ake, Wright, Baker, Kiwomya, Loftus-Cheek, Feruz, Swift, Boga.

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