FA YOUTH CUP Semi-Final (2nd Leg): Aston Villa 2 Chelsea 3 (agg: 3-4)
Aston Villa's young guns crashed out of the FA Youth Cup at the final hurdle as they came up against a Chelsea side who played as though they were under orders to achieve the one thing evading their first team so far this season - a trophy.
Coach Tony McAndrew's young side had dreamed of reaching the final and an encounter with Manchester City over two legs but in the end found the class and athleticism of the visitors just a step too far on the night.
And as the Villa players slumped in tears on to the turf at the final whistle, their dejection could be felt in the stands as this was the team tipped to be the new class of 2002 - the side who were expected to bring at least one piece of silverware Villa's way this season.
Players like Nathan Delfouneso and Barry Bannan did not disappoint with their workrate and enthusiasm, but were outshone over 90 minutes by the pacy Gael Kakuta and Sergio Tejera Rodriguez.
But Villa's Harry Forrester also made sure his name was left etched on the minds of everyone watching with a brilliant display and a spectacular brace of goals.
The discipline at this level has always won plaudits with players rarely answering back at the referee but the frustration in the second half with both sides level did at times boil over - so much so that both sides finally ended the match with ten men.
Chelsea's Lee Sawyer and Villa's Matthew Roome were both shown straight red cards for over-exuberant tackles late in the second half.
More than 10,000 fans had braved the chilly March night to peruse the club's stars of the future and, while the home fans may have been disappointed at the final whistle, they were certainly not disappointed with the entertainment on show.
Villa, boasting no less than nine home-grown players, had taken the lead in the as they made strides towards their fifth FA Youth Cup Final and their bid to emulate the class of 2002 when Messers Moore, Davies, Ridgewell and Co had last lifted the trophy.
Forrester, who joined Villa from Watford in the summer and is already rated at being worth £2 million, took the ball on from deep in his own half and unleashed a powerful 25-yard shot to send Chelsea keeper Rhys Taylor diving the wrong way.
But Chelsea were also looking likely to score with pacy winger Gael Kakuta causing Villa problems on the wing while Sergio Tejera Rodriguez bossed the midfield. And it was no surprise when these two joined up for Chelsea's equaliser after Rodriguez had broken free from his marker Nathan Baker to fire the ball home.
Chelsea quickly went ahead after a fine solo run from Kakuta ended with him sending Villa keeper Elliott Parish the wrong way.
In the second half Villa came out all guns blazing and it was 17-year-old Forrester who popped up with the equaliser. He could even had a hat-trick three minutes later after great work by Ciaran Clark who is already training with Martin O'Neill's first string squad.
Villa, watched over by coach and former Villa legend Gordon Cowans, knew O'Neill was watching from the stands and now pushed on for that elusive third goal.
But as the Villa youngsters pushed up in search of the winner they were cruelly caught out at the back when substitute Adam Phillip scored what proved to be the winner with his first touch of the ball.
Coach McAndrew admitted after the final whistle he now had his work cut out to lift his dejected players.
He said: "The lads are distraught in the dressing room. I don't think we played that well first time but we certainly created chances and I think we deserved to take the match to extra time. "Fair play to Chelsea but I am so proud of our lads. We will learn from this and I really appreciate all the fans who came along because it has really given the lads a little taste of what it is like to play at Villa Park."
Scorers: Forrester (3) 1-0, Rodriguez (18) 1-1, Kakuta (24) 1-2, Forrester (61) 2-2, Phillip (71) 2-3.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Parish; Baker, Clark, Roome, Bradley; Collins (Weimann, 74) Bannan, Hofbauer, Albrighton; Forrester, Delfouneso. Substitutes: Clancy, Dau, Grocott, Flanagan.
CHELSEA (4-4-2): Taylor; Twumasi, Bruma, Van Aanholt, Mellis (Gordon, 48,); Stoch, Sawyer, Woods (Phillip, 68) Kakuta; Nielsen (Taiwo, 81), Rodriguez. Substitutes: Hei-mann, Nouble.
Referee: A Taylor.
Booking: Chelsea - Bruma (foul).
Sendings-off: Villa - Roome (serious foul play); Chelsea - Sawyer (serious foul play).