Youth Cup reaction: All about learning

The 2017 FA Youth Cup final is finely balanced with Chelsea going into next Wednesday’s second leg seeking to win the trophy for the fourth year in a row.

The spoils were shared in the 90 minutes of the first leg at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium, with the home team’s Phil Foden levelling the tie in the second half after the young Blues’ centre-forward Ike Ugbo had netted his ninth goal in this cup campaign shortly before half-time.

After the match ended 1-1, our Under-18s manager Jody Morris gave the official Chelsea website his verdict on the game.

‘I was really pleased with the performance attacking-wise,’ Morris said. ‘I felt we played some lovely stuff, especially in the first half. We opened Man City up numerous times with some real quality. The defensive side of our game I was a little disappointed with, especially in the first half when I felt when the ball turned over we had some people who were day-dreaming and not really at it.

‘City had two clear-cut chances in the first half which were from our lapses of concentration. We looked more solid in the second half but saying that, the goal we gifted them was not good. It was a real blow to concede a goal like that once we said to tighten up at half-time and we had looked more solid.

‘We have looked very solid defensively in this cup run but when you are coming up against the front three Man City have, you have to be right at it and fully concentrated. If you want to go on and play at the top level, you have to concentrate all the time, even when you are in possession and I felt that is something we did not really do in the first half.’

Morris continued to contrast the two halves of the game and considered the fact we let our opponents draw level when we appeared in control.

‘We could have kept the ball a little better in the second half, especially when we started to get a bit tired. There were passages in the first half when we did that really well. We took the sting out of City’s press. They want to press high but we went round them and sometimes through them quite well in the first half, but the second half we had to protect it a little longer and give us a little bit of rest on the ball. But it is all about game management and all about the boys learning.’

With there being no ‘away goals rule’ in the FA Youth Cup, the second leg starts with the two teams neck-and-neck, albeit Chelsea with home advantage.

‘The match is at Stamford Bridge and we have not lost a Youth Cup game there in a while,’ noted Morris. ‘It is somewhere we are confident playing and we have performed well there already in the competition this season. If Man City are going to come and take the trophy from us, they will have to be at their best.

‘Like in most cup competitions, it will be decided by who takes their chances and who out of the top players turn up on the night.’

Click for ticket details for Chelsea v Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup final at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 26 April (kick-off 7.45pm). Tickets must be bought in advance. If you cannot make the game, it will be shown live on Chelsea TV

YOUTH CUP FINAL REACTION: Trevoh Chalobah, Mason Mount & Ike Ugbo reflect on the 1st Leg of the FA Youth Cup final