Steve Spooner - I'm really proud of the boys' cup efforts

Steve Spooner
Steve Spooner.

They've done themselves, the Club and their families proud and it's been a journey we've all thoroughly enjoyed.

Steve Spooner

Blues' Lead Professional Development Coach Steve Spooner has praised his Under-18s' players exploits following their exit from the FA Youth Cup after their Semi-Final defeat to Chelsea.

Blues lost 4-0 to Chelsea on Tuesday evening at Stamford Bridge in the Second Leg of the last four tie, having been beaten 3-0 by the same opponents at St. Andrew's last week.

But despite the extent of the loss to the Londoners, Spooner was fulsome in his praise of his players' endeavours in making it as far as they did in England's premier youth football cup competition.

"Looking back from the time at Bristol City, and all the way through to Chelsea it's been a great journey and the lads have put some marvellous performances in," said Spooner.

"It's no disgrace to come away beaten by three and four to a Chelsea side that are very accomplished technically, tactically and physically.

"I'm really proud of the boys and they must feel that way themselves and not be dispirited at all.

"They've done themselves, the Club and their families proud and it's been a journey we've all thoroughly enjoyed.

"Of course, there have been things, particularly over the two legs against Chelsea for the players to look at.

"If they want to reach the higher levels of the game they need to look not just at the technical side of Chelsea, but also their work ethic.

"I'm not saying our boys don't work very hard because they do, but with all the skill Chelsea have they still have a great work ethic and those two things must come together."

Turning specifically to Tuesday night's defeat, Spooner felt his side started the game well but once Chelsea opened the scoring with a brilliantly struck free-kick just after half-an-hour, the London Blues stepped it up a level.

"Make no mistake about it Chelsea were very good," continued Spooner.

"I was really pleased with our organisation. Yes, Chelsea had lots of the ball, which we knew would happen and the boys were dealing with it very well.

"But once the opening goal went in, I'd hoped we could get into half-time at 1-0 but we conceded two more.

"But that said, we had great response in the second-half.

"They were a little bit down at half-time and we had to rally one or two and we changed the shape which helped us.

"It was always our plan at some point to go two up top and to come out and give that kind of performance in the second-half was a great effort.

"They kept their heads up high and continued to battle throughout and they never stopped running and gave absolutely everything.

“We also definitely deserved a penalty, which wasn't given.

"It wouldn't have made a great deal of difference, but it would have been nice for somebody to have scored at the Shed End at Chelsea, something which they would have remembered for a long while."