It’s not been a banner year for the Chelsea Academy in terms of results, struggling as we are in the PL2 (under-23), getting eliminated from the EFL Trophy by Arsenal U21, and barely making it out of UEFA Youth League (under-19) group stage and into the supplementary playoff round. But at the under-18 level, Chelsea are well in the mix for the U18 Premier League title and are now into the quarterfinals of the FA Youth Cup after tonight’s most dramatic win over Liverpool at their Kirkby training ground.
Results are of course not all that matters in terms of player development, but we’ve always prided ourselves on combining the two: a winning mentality is a key part of the Cobham education.
The U18s’ journey in this year’s FA Youth Cup exemplifies that quality perfectly. After an extra-time 3-2 victory over Watford in the third round, Ed Brand’s charges went for something even more spectacular on Saturday night, coming from 3-0 down in the final 20 minutes to win 4-3. Heartbreak for Liverpool; absolute scenes for Chelsea.
Both sides named strong lineups, with no fewer than 5 of the 22 starting the game having already made senior debuts for their clubs: Harvey Vale, Lewis Hall, and Jude Soonsup-Bell for the visitors and Melkamu Frauendorf and Kaide Gordon for the home side. In fact, Gordon had already scored a goal in the senior FA Cup for Liverpool, before getting on the scoresheet in this one to double Liverpool’s first-half lead.
Luke Chambers had opened the scoring just five minutes in, while the wonderfully named Oakley Cannonier gave Liverpool a three-goal advantage right at the hour-mark. Chelsea had been played off the park, especially in the first 45.
3-0 up against Chelsea, thought Cobham was supposed to be good— FSG OUT (@ShaunlfcT) January 29, 2022
The Reds surely thought the job was done.
The Blues were just getting started.
Charlie Webster, his big hair recently spotted on the first-team bench against Brentford and Chesterfield, got Chelsea on the board in the 70th minute, while seven minutes later recent senior debutants Hall and Soonsup-Bell combined to bring Chelsea to within one — Hall, playing as a No.10 after a Man of the Mach performance as a center back for the first-team, delivered a perfect cross for JSB to nod home. Half-time substitute Silko Thomas almost created the equalizer soon after; instead it was a cross from Harvey Vale that forced a rushed clearance, which blasted off Malik Mothersille and into the back of the Liverpool net. And there were still three minutes and added-on time to go!
And wouldn’t you know it, Thomas was again at it, and in the fifth-minute of added-on time, it was his cross Tudor Mendel-Idowu stretched out a boot to tap in for the winner. Mendel-Idowu had replaced recent signing and immediate starter at left wing-back, Dylan Williams late on.
Highlights will be posted hopefully soon.
UPDATE: they’re now out on the 5th Stand app and the website!