With the second leg pf the FA Youth Cup coming up on the 13th April, new contributor, Lori King takes a look back at the first leg.
It is inevitable that the events of last season will affect how we see the Youth Cup semis this year. The Blues fought to a 3-2 home win against the same opposition in the same leg of the same round of the same cup and ended up getting annihilated by four unanswered goals in the Manchester return game. This time the little Red Devils hosted the semi-final opener at Old Trafford in front of the ITV cameras and a fair old crowd.
Camaraderie or recognition between the opposition players is often the most interesting spectacle of the pre-match tunnel filmed footage. However, despite many of the thirty plus youngsters gathered and passing through onto the pitch having come across one another in international settings, there was no inter-club eye contact or communication here. What did shock this reporter and may have unsettled the stomachs and imaginations of other viewers was the sight of United captain Luke McCullough clearing out his nasal orifice with seemingly alien vigour. Although the act is a pretty regular occurrence on football pitches around the world, McCullough appears to possess an incredible ability to use his nostril as a powerful faux nuclear missile device – unaided by fingers or tissues. He shot an enormous geyser of plutonium toned liquid in the direction of the Chelsea lined-up line-up, without needing to resort to any other pressure building act, other than that natural force contained in his nose. In fact, it couldn’t actually be said that the spray was in a single direction; the explosion resembled a morbidly obese, naked Rastafarian, painted slime green, tripping over his hair and swinging arms around on the way down a long flight of stairs. The trajectory was so wild that I would hazard to guess that some of the entertaining juice landed on McCullough himself. It is unlikely that the Northern Irishman has circus-based ambitions, but I for one would happily tune in to see him on Britain’s Got Talent or any other showcase of the weird-and-wonderful, possibly creating intricate canvas collages of snot.
Both of these teams had scored plenty of goals on the way to the final four and the six attackers on the field promised much. In the case of the home team it was obvious that Jack Barmby has inherited his father Nick’s mazy wingside dribbles, but, given his dissimilar facial features, he may well be the milkman’s boy. Young Barmby caused trouble for Chelsea all the way by boisterously taking on players and swapping positions frequently.
The match contained a healthy dose of end-to-end goal frame cracking fun and notable triangle passing, with the majority of the intense spells of forward pressure belonging to the Londoners.
Chelsea opened the scoring in the fourteenth minute via an impressive set of sharp passes. Chalobah one-two’d with Lucas Piazon, from whom John Swift received the ball, laying it off to Islam Feruz, who directed a through-ball to Piazon again. Piazon deftly executed a right foot sidestep, bounced the ball off of Ben Pearson’s bum, then as a crowd of five engulfed him, he forwarded it to the strolling Amin Affane for a powerful southpaw bullet into the bottom right of the goal.
Five or six of the boys pointed skywards in celebration, which is either a collective stating of the club’s position in the transcendentalist divine omnipresence debate or a trending of Frankie Lampard of two years ago.
The interval brought great potential and Adrian Viveash must have been thinking that the first half performance had rattled the hosts when the kids in red gave the ball away less than two seconds after their own kick-off. Paul McGuiness’ fledglings soon found their feet again though.
The United leveller arrived on sixty-three minutes. Jamal Blackman had decided to tickle the ball of a weak shot, rather than gather it cleanly and as a result gifted the opposition a corner kick. The consequential deadball itself looped over everyone worthwhile, but eventually found the feet of Pearson who performed an inaccurate scoop back into the box. Davey, under no real pressure, failed the awareness test by bonking his clearing header into the most northerly part of Lewis Baker’s arse cheeks. Inevitably the peach provided the perfect amount of bounce to find the lurking (but not skulking) sixteen-year-old James Wilson to sweep it through the keeper’s legs from ten yards.
Barely a few minutes had passed before Chalobah, in his Scott Parker guise, stole from a heavy Nicolas Ionnou pass. Teammate Feruz’s harassing threat had been constant throughout and so within a stride or two he had been entrusted with the ball at his feet. Possibly looking to fell his jockeying defender he first swiped a shot at McCullough’s legs and once back in possession then took eight shuffling steps before hammering his shot inside the bottom left armpit of the net from a quart-century in yards. Acrobatics and the sight of yellow and red boots in a 360 flip followed in joy at the winner. He may be sixteen and thus never been kissed, but he’s also a brilliant example of useful swiping from Celtic Football Club.
Chelsea go into the home leg at the Bridge on the thirteenth with an advantage they will be desperate not to let slip. Don’t count the holders out of this yet though; they have enough in the bank to repeat last year’s reversal feat.
Man Utd 1 – 2 Chelsea – FA Youth Cup – Old Trafford, Manchester – 16 March 2012
5. McCullough (C)
8. Pearson (76 min, 14. Byrne)
6. Rudge (76 min, 15. Hendrie)
7. Barmby (92 min, 12. Ekangamene)
11. Van Velzen
Unused subs: 13. Jacob, 16. Dalley
5. Nditi (87 min, 15. Nortey)
6. Chalobah (C)
9. Feruz (92 min, 12. Howard)
7. Affane (65 min, 16. Kiwomya)
Unused subs: 12. Beeney, 14. Conroy
Booked: Nditi, 64 mins
Scorers: Affane, Feruz
Referee: Geoff Eltringham