The FA Youth Cup-holders were beaten by a last-minute penalty at Carrow Road in the first leg of this season’s final. Alex Davey was ruled to have bundled over Joshua Murphy as the game ticked towards its conclusion and Norwich City skipper Cameron McGeehan slammed the penalty home, giving the hosts a lead heading into the second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea had chances to score – especially in the first half with ball cleared off the line twice – and manager Adi Viveash will be looking for his team to be more ruthless in front of goal in a fortnight’s time.
Viveash made one change from the side that beat Liverpool 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the second leg of the semi-finals, with Charlie Colkett replacing John Swift in midfield. Ruben Loftus-Cheek and captain Lewis Baker continued in the middle, while Islam Feruz led the line up front supported by Alex Kiwomya and Jeremie Boga from the flanks.
The back five remained unchanged with Nathan Aké and Alex Davey partnering one another at centre back, Ola Aina and Kevin Wright starting at full back and Mitchell Beeney between the sticks.
Norwich made one change from the side that defeated Nottingham Forest on penalties in their semi-final, with Henry Randall coming into the starting 11.
In front of 21,995 fans in attendance at Carrow Road it was the Cup holders who started in the ascendancy in the Norfolk evening sunshine. Boga found an opening down the left channel inside the first minute after a neat ball through by Colkett, though the hosts’ Kyle McFadden read the threat and intercepted well.
Islam Feruz then had his first sight at goal after getting in behind, though the Scotland Under-21 international was eventually adjudged offside by the linesman and his effort went just the wrong side of William Britt’s near post.
The home fans finally had something to shout about as Jacob Murphy raced Aké and went down in the box under the Dutch defender’s soft challenge, however referee Neil Swarbrick wasn’t interested in the appeals from Murphy or the Carrow Road crowd.
The visitors were enjoying a good spell of possession as the half reached its midway point and Feruz was providing the biggest threat, firing off-target twice from Kiwomya deliveries from the right after the speedy wideman had beaten Wyatt, before Baker managed to find some space just outside the penalty area and shot over the bar.
However the hosts were still proving a threat themselves and Josh Murphy was causing Aina problems down the Norwich left, outmuscling the full-back and finding a delivery that just evaded the lurking Carlton Morris in the six-yard box.
Down the opposite flank Norman beat Kevin Wright for pace before sending a dangerous cross towards Morris, though Aina did well in the air to avert the danger and clear to safety.
A great opportunity then fell to Aké after Boga had won a free-kick on the break for the visitors. Baker provided the delivery and found the centre-back at the far post, whose first effort was saved well by Britt before Norman hacked the rebound effort off the line.
The influential Colkett then fashioned a chance for himself that he dragged just wide, before the Murphy twins were involved for Norwich, with Morris forcing Aké into a smart block after a neat touch by Josh Murphy and then Jacob Murphy firing just past Beeney’s far post.
The game petered into a midfield battle as the half ticked towards its end, though there was time in the final minute for a golden chance for the visitors. Feruz met Colkett’s driven corner with a far-post header that he saw nodded off the line by King, before the striker then prodded wide from close range.
There were no changes from either side at the interval and the second half began much as the first had played out, with the visitors largely in control of possession and probing in attack, while Norwich continued to threaten on the break. Baker saw an inswinging free-kick palmed over by Britt in the early minutes of the half before Harry Toffolo was penalised while trying to engineer an acrobatic overhead kick inside the box.
Feruz and Loftus-Cheek then had efforts from the edge of the box well blocked by City skipper McGeehan and Toffolo respectively, before at the other end Morris sent a curling shot just over the bar when positioned promisingly.
Viveash made his first change of the evening just before the hour mark, replacing Colkett with John Swift, scorer of the Blues’ opening goal in the semi-final second-leg win over Liverpool, in a like-for-like midfield swap.
There was a chance for Jacob Murphy down the right as the tricky winger worked some space before skewing his shot just wide, an outcome that was becoming a regular occurrence for both sides with their final product. As the half progressed chances were becoming more scarce as nerves played their part, though both teams were undoubtedly pushing for a first-leg advantage.
Kiwomya embarked on a bursting run from deep, skipping past a few challenges as he moved towards goal, though another good block prevented him threatening Britt’s goal. Shortly afterwards Viveash made his second change, replacing Feruz with Under-18 debutant Charly Musonda.
The younger brother of Under-21 regulars Tika and Lamisha was playing his first competitive game for the club and joined the swelling ranks of schoolboys in Viveash’s squad. He started from the left flank, with Kiwomya moving infield as the central striker and Boga supporting from the right, and saw an early tame effort drag just past the far post.
Norwich’s late opportunities were mainly created on the break and Jacob Murphy just overhit a through pass towards Young as the hosts broke forward on the counter-attack. Boga then went on a mazy run inside the Norwich box but his delivery was headed to safety as Kiwomya and Musonda waited.
That looked to have settled the game as a draw, however there was still time for some late drama as the hosts were awarded a penalty in stoppage time. Davey was adjudged to have brought down Josh Murphy as the winger skipped past him and the referee pointed to the spot. Captain McGeehan stepped up under the pressure and slammed the spot-kick into the roof of Beeney’s net to give Norwich a dramatic late winner.
The second leg takes place at Stamford Bridge on Monday 13 May, kick-off 7.45pm.
Tickets must be bought in advance.
Chelsea: Mitchell Beeney; Ola Aina, Alex Davey, Nathan Aké, Kevin Wright; Lewis Baker (c), Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Charlie Colkett (John Swift 57); Alex Kiwomya, Jeremie Boga, Islam Feruz (Charly Musonda 72)
Unused substitutes: Ben Killip, Dion Conroy, Fankaty Dabo.
Norwich: William Britt; Cameron Norman, Ben Wyatt, Cameron McGeehan (c), Kyle McFadden; Harry Toffolo, Henry Randall, Cameron King (Rod Young 75); Jacob Murphy, Joshua Murphy, Carlton Morris.
Unused substitutes: Tyler Reading, Kevin Lokko, Harvey Hodd, Reece Brown.