Late strike ends Rams' FA Youth Cup run.Premier League side Chelsea struck late on to seal their path into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, and put an end to Derby County’s memorable run in the competition.
A fluent and slick opening from the Blues was rewarded when Lewis Baker converted from the penalty spot after Rams goalkeeper Ross Etheridge was penalised for hauling down Reece Mitchell.
Mason Bennett’s deflected cross seven minutes after the restart levelled the tie, only for Alex Kiwomya to break the Rams’ hearts late on when his low drive from the edge of the penalty area nestled in the bottom corner.
Defender Jamie Hanson had supporters on their feet in injury time, when his 25-yard free-kick, from what seemed an impossible angle, cannoned off the top of the crossbar.
Despite Derby’s physical and pressing opening, the first opportunity of the game fell to the visitors on six minutes as Baker’s low shot following Kiwomya’s cut-back forced Etheridge into his maiden save of the half.
However, eight minutes later, a loose back pass by Josh Lelan allowed Mitchell to race clear at goal, only for the striker to be brought to a halt by Etheridge, who collided with the Chelsea forward inside the penalty area.
The duo required immediate treatment, before referee Chris Sarginson booked the goalkeeper for his misdemeanor, leaving Etheridge the prospect of trying to deny Baker from 12-yards. And although the Rams’ shot-stopper predicted the right corner in which the striker would place the ball, he could not keep out the forward’s coolly placed finish.
The Rams had to work particularly hard for any sight of goal against what seemed an unflappable Chelsea back-line, who retained possession meticulously despite relentless pressure from the hosts.
However, after 25 minutes Derby did force their first effort, as Hanson tried to replicate his goalscoring exploits of the previous two rounds, although on this occasion the defender’s free-kick from a tight angle landed on the roof of the net.
Chelsea responded and created two quickfire opportunities of their own, as Kiwomya and Baker combined superbly on the edge of the penalty area twice in the space of three minutes.
Firstly Kiwomya – nephew of former Arsenal and Ipswich Town striker Chris – sent a low drive wide from 20-yards, prior to Baker’s exquisite flick on the edge of the box teeing the youngster up, only for Etheridge to deny the winger with a reflex stop from close range.
Despite the Premier League side’s dominance in the final third, on the stroke of half-time the Rams almost drew level when Andy Dales’ cross was headed against the inside of the post by Bennett.
Bennett’s header midst the closing stages of the first-half appeared to send a wave of confidence through Wassall’s side, as they began the following 45 minutes in resurgent fashion.
Rhys Sharpe sent a 30-yard curler into the arms of Beeney before Bennett ran at the Chelsea defence and fizzed a low cross into the area; the ball took a wicked deflection off of Alex Davey as it looped over the despairing 'keeper, into the net.
Then Bennett - who was proving problematic for the visitors down the left – slide another flat cross into the penalty area, where recipient Andy Dales was on hand to rifle against the crossbar from eight-yards out.
The provider almost turned goalscorer moments later when Dylan Hayes’ cross was glanced wide by the towering Bennett.
Unfortunately for Wassall’s men, despite their spirited second-half endeavour there was to be a late sting in the tie, as Kiwomya fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area after 82 minutes, to inflict defeat on the Under-18s for the first time since December.
Derby County: Etheridge; Hayes, Lelan, Hanson, Lowe; Wixted (Revan 76), Dales, Dawkins, Sharpe (Vernam 85); Thomas, Bennett
Subs not used: Rawson, Wassall, Johnson
Chelsea: Beeney; Christensen (Conroy 46), Nditi, Ake, Davey; Kiwomya, Loftus-Cheek, Swift (Colkett 68), Boga; Baker, Mitchell (Dabo 20)
Subs not used: Killip, Ssewankambo