Derby County's FA Youth Cup run is ended by holders Chelsea
DERBY County's FA Youth Cup adventure was ended at Pride Park last night by holders Chelsea.
The quarter-final tie was heading for extra-time when Alex Kiwomya fired an 82nd-minute winner to send the visitors through to the last four.
The young Rams had battled hard to get back into the match, having fallen behind to Lewis Baker's 17th-minute penalty, and were level shortly before the hour when Mason Bennett's cross was deflected in.
Derby were also denied by the woodwork three times as they attempted to extend their impressive run in the competition.
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Darren Wassall was again without England Under-21 international midfielder Will Hughes (groin) but was able to name an unchanged side following last week's victory over Manchester City.
Chelsea's starting line-up featured nine members of last season's cup-winning squad, including Dutch defender Nathan Ake, who has already played in the Premier League.
Spectators were still flooding into the West Stand when the match kicked off and the South Stand was eventually opened to accommodate everyone.
The first chance fell to the visitors in the seventh minute.
John Swift made good progress down the right before squaring for Lewis Baker, who took the ball in his stride but saw his low shot well blocked by keeper Ross Etheridge.
Jeremie Boga fired a 20-yard curler goalwards soon after but Etheridge kept it out.
Disaster struck in the 14th minute when Josh Lelan sold Etheridge short with a backpass and the keeper clattered into striker Reece Mitchell as the ball was knocked past him.
Referee Chris Sarginson rightly pointed to the spot but chose to only book Etheridge when he could have easily sent him off.
The home side breathed a brief sigh of relief, with no replacement stopper on the bench – but Baker converted the penalty with a low finish.
Mitchell, though, was to play no further part due to injury.
Derby were largely kept at bay going forward – Max Lowe's speculative long-ranger was comfortably saved by Mitchell Beeney, while Jamie Hanson's free kick from the left landed on the roof of the net.
Chelsea could have added to their lead before the break.
In the 38th minute, Baker found Kiwomya – the nephew of Notts County boss Chris Kiwomya – in the box but he prodded a low shot just wide of the post.
The same duo combined again moments later but this time, Kiwomya was denied by Etheridge following Baker's neat flick.
Derby were under the cosh but almost levelled in first-half added time.
Andy Dales crossed from the right and Mason Bennett won the header but the ball came back off the inside of the post before being hacked clear.
The danger had not gone though and Dales curled an effort narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
Rhys Sharpe went close for the Rams in the opening minute of the second half after winning possession but Beeney held his dipping shot from 20 yards.
With a renewed spring in their step, the hosts equalised in the 57th minute.
Bennett robbed substitute Fankaty Dabo on the left and cut into the box before seeing his cross deflect off Davey and loop into the far corner of the net.
Chelsea seemed to be stunned by the goal and Derby so nearly went ahead after 62 minutes.
Bennett drilled in a low cross and Dales' sweet first-time strike crashed against the crossbar. At the other end, Etheridge was out quickly to save from Kiwomya at point blank range.
Derby were looking like they might nick a winner – but the decisive moment came at the other end with eight minutes remaining.
Substitute Charlie Colkett did well to spin and pick out Kiwomya, who fizzed a low shot past a motionless Etheridge from 15 yards.
Chelsea nearly grabbed a third but Boga's shot was deflected on to the bar off Hanson.
But the Rams were inches away from forcing extra-time with the final kick of the game – Hanson's free kick from the left bouncing off the crossbar and away to safety.