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FA Youth Cup Semi Final: Chelsea 1 Aston Villa 1


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When it comes to choices on Friday night in the big smoke in London; a drink with Anton at China Whites, a meal with Chelsy or ‘We will Rock you’, you really are spoilt for choice. But its no competition when the Claret and Blue are playing the next Kings of the King Road, Chelsea in the FA youth cup semi final. A quick tube ride from Hammersmith and time for what I thought would be a quick half and 90 minutes of footballing excellence. Sadly timekeeping has never been one of my strengths, and by the time I reached Stamford Bridge, not only was the East Stand full, but Simmonds our right back was being carried off. Now those of you who have been to see Villa over the years will know the lower East stand well, its the concrete bunker, with the claustrophic overhang. Chelsea clearly hadn’t thought of a plan B, because it was already packed, and the overspill was standing at the back. Eventually after 10 minutes of discussion with the stewards we got some cramped seats near the front. Second moan of the night, no one had bothered printing enough team sheets, nor did they bother having the names on the display board that stayed unlit all night. I had taken the precaution of printing some pages from the official website and spoken to the oracle on all things youth, Mr Easter. Sadly I spent most of the game failing to recognise half our team, and the scribbled notes this morning make little or no sense to me.

The first half was a pretty poor affair, neither team seemed to take a grip; was the occasion getting to the young lads? Two players did shine out during the mediocrity; Albrighton for Villa, and Miroslav Stoch the young Slovakian playing for Chelsea. Stoch stood head and shoulders above the rest of his team mates, and on both wings with pace and skill was the main threat all game. Sadly the young lad has picked up the usual bad habits from his elders, and had to be calmed down by the referee after a tirade of abuse to the linesman in the second half. Albrighton was excellent in the first half, and put in a few great crosses. Sadly the forward line of James Collins and Nathan Delfouneso seemed to be on a different wavelength, and failed to make the vital connection. Bar this the first half was a forgettable affair, and the promise of some beer at half time was keeping me going. Come half time and the revelation dawned on me, no beer. Yes you could get some at the imaginatively named ‘Blues’ bar, but that would be a trip out of the stand and you wouldn’t be allowed back in. It really seemed that Chelsea hadn’t thought this one through.

15 minutes of banter with the Chelsea fans about the diminituive no. 8 Barry Bannan, he of facebook fame, and Bannan had become Banniuo, a Glaswegian by birth, but a Brazilian in his talent range. The great thing about Bannan is that you can spot him a mile off. I knew he was short, but he really is impossibly short, just not of the correct height for a modern day football.

As the second half kicked off, someone had clearly given an impressive team talk; we were a totally different outfit (sounds like the first team). Suddenly it was one way traffic, and a huge amount of it was being directed from the centre of the park, and young Bannan and the excellent Forrester. Suddenly it was all clicking into place, we were getting to the ball first, giving them no time on the ball and harrying them at all times. Bannan did a great tackle in the centre of the park, took the ball twenty yards and released Delfouneso to score a well deserved goal. Delfouenso took the goal incredibly well, with a maturity that bodes well for the future. During the first half he hadn’t seemed to be that involved, but in the second half, his class started to show, with a series of great runs, and a threat that Chelsea never got to grips with. For the next twenty five minutes Chelsea were on the back foot, clueless to change the course of the games, as we dominated proceedings, Bannan, Albrighton and Delfouenso ran the show. Problem was we never turned all of this into goals, and past the 75 minutes as legs tired the tide began to turn. Clark our young centre back, played well, and the initial Chelsea tactic of long ball was easily snuffed out.

Stoch who had moved out to the left wing in the second half, spent the last fifteen minutes giving Clancy our replacement right back a torrid time, and put in countless great crosses, and Chelsea had three or four gilt edged chances. They missed when it was easier to score; they missed by inches, they hit the bar, and kept on hitting the ball at Parrish. Villa were definitely on the backfoot and looking exhausted. The orange booted Phillips eventually turned up in the box to score an equalizer. Even when they scored they weren’t finished and Parrish saved us a couple more times.

By the end the draw was a fair result. For 25 minutes we had been excellent and we should have taken advantage and it was a disappointment, but in the last quarter we started to tire and the Chelsea goal was coming. Yes it was frustrating that we concedded so late on, but I am full of hope for the return leg. I found the whole experience refreshing; it was free for a start, and I felt none of the frustration and anxiousness that I get whilst watching the first team. The second leg should be a cracker, and with home advantage I reckon Villa youth have a great chance of another final.

Photos from a Chelsea perspective


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Thanks Paul.

I'm impressed with the dedication to the the report - note taking! cripes.

It's a shame Chelsea didn't sort their act out in terms of refreshments and admittance.

Nice report all the same.

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