The last time Chelsea travelled to Oakwell, Gianluca Vialli scored four as the Blues ran out 6-0 winners. This time however, it was not the be, as the Tykes FA Cup fairytale continued, following up their victory over Liverpool with a 1-0 quarter final win over Avram Grant’s Chelsea.
Rotation was the name of the game, as Belletti and Bridge were selected as fullbacks. Cudicini continued in goal, whilst Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba were allegedly unfit. Anelka was central in the front three, with Malouda and Joe Cole as the wingers.
Barnsley had Anfield hero’s Luke Steele and Brian Howard in their lineup, as well as a host of names completely unknown to Chelsea fans.
Early on, Jamal Campbell-Ryce threatened but John Terry stood tall to clear behind. Up the other end, Joe Cole had three attempts on goal, none of them troubling Steele in goal.
Midway through the first half, Chelsea had a very lucky escape, as some lax defending from Terry nearly saw the Blues go behind. Terry’s pass back to Cudicini was careless to say the least, the ball bouncing in front of the Italian goalkeeper. His attempt to chest down and clear was blocked by the onrushing Odejayi , but the ball trickled wide.
On 28 minutes, Wayne Bridge carved out an opportunity down the left, sending a wonderful cross into the Barnsley 6 yard box, which saw Steele hesitate. However, a flying Rob Kozluk headed the ball clear as Joe Cole closed in on the opportunity. However, Barnsley were to have two good opportunities as the half drew to a close.
Firstly, Ferenczi shot against the post after a long free kick dropped for him in the box and secondly Cudicini saved smartly from Odejayi. Barnsley were good value for their 0-0 at half time.
Malouda and Anelka forced smart saves from Steele after the restart before, in the 56th minute, Anelka had a great opportunity from Terry’s knockdown, only for the defence to block well.
On the hour, the startlingly ineffective Malouda was replaced by Kalou. Chelsea were attacking with a little more impetus, before Barnsley delivered the tie deciding blow.
Devaney found space on the right to cross, however poor defending from both Carvalho and Terry meant that Cudicini had to deal with the long ball in. He failed to do so, although he had a fair case for a foul, but Odejayi jumped impressively to head the ball into an empty net and send the home fans into raptures.
In response, Grant sent on Pizarro for Belletti, as Chelsea played four up front, and just three at the back. Wright-Phillips carved out an opportunity, but was only able to shoot wide on his left foot.
With a minute left, Terry had joined a five man forward line, but blazed over a clear cut opportunity, after smart work from Anelka. The Chelsea captain blazed over with what proved to be the last chance of the match. Carvalho was lucky to only see yellow for a tackle on the counter attacking Howard and when Terry’s volley was deflected over the bar, referee Bennett blew full time before the corner could be taken.
Barnsley were fully deserving of their victory, one which heightens the pressure on Avram Grant, already under the microscope after the Carling Cup Final defeat to Tottenham. If Chelsea’s big game record continues as it is, he’ll surely be looking over his shoulder as the season draws to a close.
Barnsley(4-4-2): Steele; Van Homoet, Souza, Foster, Kozluk; Devaney (Togwell 72), Howard (c), Hassell, Campbell-Ryce; Odejayi (Coulson 79), Ferenczi.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cudicini; Belletti (Pizarro 73), Carvalho, Terry (c), Bridge; Wright-Phillips, Essien, Ballack; J Cole, Anelka, Malouda (Kalou 61).
Referee Steve Bennett