FA Youth Cup: Chelsea 3-0 Barnsley

Chelsea cruised into the last eight of the 2012-13 FA Youth Cup on Friday night with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Barnsley at Staines Town’s Wheatsheaf Park.

After a nervy opening twenty minutes where the visitors looked like they might take the lead, the young Blues were settled by Lewis Baker’s cracking free kick, before Alex Kiwomya added a clinical brace before the break. They were unable to add to their tally in the second half but didn’t need to as they controlled proceedings in a professional and largely efficient manner.

Manager Adi Viveash was forced into two changes from the team which started in the previous round away to Charlton Athletic as both Islam Feruz and John Swift were ruled out through injury. Reece Mitchell returned to fitness to replace the Scottish forward, whilst Kiwomya and Connor Hunte – both scorers that night at The Valley – retained their places in a re-shaped team.

Nathan Aké played at centre-back less than 24 hours after sitting on the bench for the first team in Prague, whilst Andreas Christensen was preferred at right-back to Fankaty Dabo.

Barnsley reached this stage by virtue of a 4-3 win over Stevenage in Round Four and started with a very compact shape, happy to let their more illustrious hosts knock the ball around but force mistakes when they moved into attacking areas, and look to play on the counter. Thus, the early stages were controlled by the boys in blue, but the closest they were able to come to threatening Elliott Chadderton’s goal was from Aké’s thundering long range strike which was tipped away for a corner.

Slowly but surely, the Yorkshiremen came into the game and enjoyed their best moments around the midway point of the first half. Having lost a number of balls into the neighbouring foliage, they nearly caused an upset when winger Erico Sousa beat Christensen out wide and lashed a shot towards goal. Goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney was beaten but saw the ball bounce back off the post, and did well to recover to block George Maris’ follow-up.

Maris then had another sight of goal as he got in behind an out-of-position Aké but his strike was far from convincing and allowed the young Chelsea stopper to deny him for the second time in a matter of minutes. His profligacy would come back to haunt him in double-quick time as Baker put the hosts ahead with 30 minutes played.

He did so from a free kick won by Kiwomya, belting the ball around the wall and into the bottom corner, beating a dubiously-positioned Chadderton in the visitor’s goal.

Jeremie Boga went close to adding a second in a move which would pay dividends before the half time whistle but the remainder of the first half belonged to 16 year-old Kiwomya. He doubled the lead with a clinical low finish after picking up the ball from Christensen after the Dane marauded forward to fine effect, and added his second and Chelsea’s third with two minutes left in the half.

Alex Davey had enjoyed time and space all evening to pick a pass and favoured long, raking cross-field passes to release Nditi down the left side. They combined to fashion Boga’s aforementioned chance and did so again, but this time decisively as the left-back found Kiwomya on the edge of the box. The rest was all the forward’s work though, as he swivelled to lash a sensational volley past a helpless Chadderton to give his team an almost unassailable half time advantage.

The one way traffic merely increased after a brief interlude, with Boga threatening inside sixty seconds of the restart before Aké drew Chadderton into an outstanding save with a close-range header.

With time running out on them and Chelsea offering little sign of letting up, Barnsley began to look a bit more agitated and frustrated, resulting in a more aggressive approach and a booking for Brad Abbott after a robust challenge on Mitchell. Baker handed free kick duties over to Boga, but the Frenchman’s attempt wasn’t quite up to his colleague’s earlier standards.

The Tykes sought to freshen things up by bringing on more offensively minded substitutes in Greg Simmons and Omari Alexander-Salmon but the closest they came to threatening the scoresheet was from a Chelsea player as Aké glanced George Smith’s free kick worryingly close to his own goal, but the Dutchman was able to get away with it.

Perhaps with a NextGen Series trip to Barcelona on Wednesday in mind, the home team took their foot off the gas as the game wore on, content to retain possession and play risk-free football. Boga was given a breather with twenty minutes left as Jesse Starkey got his first action in the competition this season and as Ruben Loftus-Cheek was pushed further forward, he had an immediate sight of goal. Unfortunately for him, Chadderton was equal to his low shot.

It was Loftus-Cheek’s last notable act as well, as he was withdrawn after a week away on international duty and Dion Conroy put on in his place. Aké moved into midfield with the newcomer slotting in alongside Davey in defence.

Mitchell, who had worked hard for little reward all evening in attack, was presented with a potential reward with ten minutes to go after great work by Kiwomya and Christensen, but he lost his balance at the vital moment and put the ball over the bar from six yards out.

Chike Kandi, who has been in fine league form of late, was Viveash’s final substitute in relief of schoolboy Hunte, and he might well have scored within two minutes of his arrival were it not for Chadderton again. The rebound, however, looked to have given Kiwomya his hat-trick, but from two yards out he contrived to put the ball well wide of the target.

It was the last notable talking point of the match – despite half-chances for Kandi and Mitchell again – as the second half wound down with Chelsea securing themselves an away date at either Derby County or Manchester City in the Quarter Finals of the competition.

Chelsea: Beeney, Christensen, Davey, Aké, Nditi, Baker (c), Loftus-Cheek (Conroy 72), Boga (Starkey 68), Hunte (Kandi 80), Kiwomya, Mitchell
Subs not Used: Killip, Dabo

Barnsley: Chadderton, Alderson, Smith, Biggins (Simmons 52), Moore, Shillito (c), Maris (Williams 82), Abbott, Oates, McKnight (Alexander-Salmon 60), Sousa
Subs not Used: Mackey, Freeman

Goals: Baker 30, Kiwomya 36, 42
Booked: Abbott (Barnsley)