So, amidst all this furor over some matches against Manchester United in this little tournament called the Champions League, there was the exciting matter of the FA Youth Cup semifinal.
I hope some of you were able to watch the match, as the kids were much more exciting and inspiring to watch than the first team have been lately. Even Roman Abramovich chose to spend the afternoon cheering on the youth boys rather than sunning himself on his yacht or something.
Josh McEachran captained the side in the absence of usual captain Danny Pappoe, still suspended after a red card in a reserves match a few weeks ago. Pappoe should be back for the next leg to help stabilize our occasionally shaky defense.
The boys were simply excellent in the first half. They kept hold of the ball, making excellent passes and Lalkovic was running the Manc defense ragged, but unfortunately with no result. The breakthrough came when United's keeper fumbled a corner and central defender Nathaniel Chalobah was on there to smash the ball into the net, similar to the madness that led to Malouda's goal against Wigan. The defender scored again before half-time, from a George Saville corner (he must not be practicing with the first team because it actually beat the first man), a magnificent looping header that the Manc defense could only watch.
Our two-goal lead did make me nervous, because United had come from 2-0 down at Liverpool to win 3-2 (albeit when Liverpool was down to nine players). The visitors realized they needed to change their strategy and as the second half opened, they were much more dominant. Our boys couldn't string passes together and kept gifting United the ball. It was inevitable that they would score, which they did. They also kept passes from getting up to Lalkovic, who was largely anonymous in the second half as a result.
The two-goal lead was restored from Chelsea's best move of the second half. Aziz Deen-Conteh zoomed past the defenders on the left, crossed into the box, and Bobby Devyne was left unmarked to knock past the keeper. A well-deserved goal as he had been excellent throughout the match. Unfortunately, the lead was cut back to one a short time later when Pogba headed in a second for United.
It was an exciting game, and sets up a pretty thrilling second leg to come. It will be played a week from Wednesday, on April 20th - Manchester United were kind enough to schedule it the same night our first team play our game-in-hand at home to Birmingham. Lovely. The support for the youth team has been fantastic from Chelsea fans so far, and I can only hope we'll still have a decent number of fans travelling up to Manchester to cheer on the kids despite United's convenient scheduling conflict with our first team.