Barnsley were unable to repeat the heroics seen in 2008 as they bowed out of the FA Cup at home to Premier League Chelsea. A second-half goal from Tammy Abraham was enough to see the away side through in what turned out to be a very tough test for them in front of the Match of the Day cameras on a very cold night in South Yorkshire.
Both sides made changes from their last league games with Chelsea of course rotating the pack more. The most notable change for the hosts saw deadline day signing Daryl Dike make the bench with many reds fans desperate to see the highly-rated young striker in action. Tuchel handed oppertunities to some of his fringe players in an attempt to see what they can do. Still, a very strong side fielded though by the German.
— leon wobschall (@LeonWobYP) February 11, 2021
Barnsley started much the brighter and they pressed Chelsea so well high up the pitch. Using the press to win a corner within the first few minutes set the tone for the opening exchanges with Chelsea unable to settle into a rhythm due to the intensity of the Barnsley play.
With ten minutes gone Barnsley should have gone ahead but somehow Brittain missed from just a few yards out. Captain Alex Mowatt floated in a lovely right-footed cross which the energetic wing-back met at the back post following a flick on in the box. Somehow Brittain shot at Kepa who saved from point-blank range with the goal gaping. Huge opportunity missed by the hosts.
Chelsea then started to control the possession but it was mainly sidewards and backwards passing due to the press. They did, however, have a big claim for a penalty midway through the first half when Sibbick challenged Abraham in the box.
The striker was picked out and he looked to turn but Sibbick slid in from the side and on first viewing, it looked to be a fantastic last-ditch challenge. However, after seeing the replay it did appear that the defender played the man before the ball so it probably should have been a foul.
Chelsea soon probed again for an opener but Helik was there to intercept well to deny Abraham a tap in following a dangerous cross from Hudson-Odoi on the right. The big Polish defender slid in just at the right time to divert the ball away for a corner.
It was then back to Barnsley who tried their luck again. Firstly, Mowatt tried to pick out Brittain again at the back post but Alonso just managed to get his head on it before the advancing wing-back could get his header on goal. Soon after Brittain again involved as he did well to beat Alonso on the right before crossing but it was just too high for Woodrow in the middle.
Pulisic then put a chance wide after another good cross from Hudson-Odoi on the right. The American winger seemed to slip as he tried to turn the ball home at the back post and his shot went way wide.
Just on the stroke of half-time, the home side Barnsley came super close and again it was that man Brittain in the thick of it. A cleverly worked corner routine picked out Brittain in the box and he shot towards the far post. It took a slight touch off Adeboyejo and went just wide of the post with the keeper well beaten.
Half Time – Barnsley 0-0 Chelsea
Chelsea had dominated possession in the opening half but had failed to register a shot on target. Barnsley certainly the better team in the first half and could have been a few goals up. They certainly should have scored at least once from the early Brittain chance. Chelsea will have been upset not to have been awarded a penalty in the first half but overall they will have been happy to have gone in level given their poor first-half showing.
Agonising for the Reds as Brittain's shot from a well-worked corner is deflected wide!
It's the last action of a positive half. pic.twitter.com/cfUFfuUSl1
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) February 11, 2021
Tuchel made a double sub at half-time which saw the away side change formation and go for a four at the back set up to try and gain more control against the press. The visitors dominated possession again in the early exchanges of the second half but Barnsley were still pressing hard.
Around the hour mark, Barnsley were starting to tire a little and this allowed Chelsea to create a few chances, the first fell to Hudson-Odoi who cut in from the left, beat a few Barnsley defenders before firing a left-footed shot just wide of the post.
Soon after this, substitute Antonio Rudiger headed just wide from a Ziyech free-kick. The big German got up really well but his header went just the wrong side of the post.
Chelsea did eventually make the spell of pressure count though and they opened the scoring on 64 minutes. Half-time sub Reece James found space down the right and he made a powerful run toward the box. He had time to get his head up and pick out Abraham who was left with a simple tap in from close range to score his fourth FA Cup goal of the season.
It initially looked like the striker had strayed offside but replays did show he was just onside and the goal rightly stood. It was a real blow for the hosts who has more than matched their Premier League opponents up until the hour mark where the away side had found a bit of rhythm.
Barnsley came very close to a leveler with time running out, but goalscorer Abraham became a hero at the other end when he headed Sollbauer’s goalbound volley off the line.
It came from a set-piece that fell to the big Austrian, his effort had beaten Kepa but Abraham came to the rescue on the line. Barnsley pushed for an equaliser but just couldn’t find that moment of quality needed to break the Chelsea defence down in the end.
Helik had a late header easily saved by Kepa again from a set-piece but Chelsea hung on and booked their place in the next round where they will face Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge.
Full Time – Barnsley 0-1 Chelsea
MOTM – Alex Mowatt
A defeat, but an incredible effort from the Reds.
You've done us proud 🙌 pic.twitter.com/jVkZJYTXKW
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) February 11, 2021
Chelsea got the win and will be happy to be through to the next round but it will be Barnsley who take the most plaudits from the game as they more than matched their visitors tonight and they will surely be proud of their efforts. Chelsea only managed one shot on target all game and that was the goal they scored. Barnsley had more shots and more shots on target and really impressed with the intensity of the pressing.
If there ever was a good way to go out of the FA Cup it will be in the manner Barnsley did today as they put in a very strong performance. Barnsley fans will have also been happy to see a small glimpse of new signing Dike off the bench although he was unable to really make a major impact.