Two weeks ago, when my beloved Liverpool were ousted by a Barnsley side I was surprised, but not shocked. And the reason for that was Liverpool's far from good form, but when I cut that TV on today, I saw a team that was and is destined for glory both now and forever.
Barnsley came out of the gates and showed tremendous heart and they showed that they were for real. In the first 20, Barnsley really scared Chelsea to death. After a couple of chances for the Tykes, the Blues decided to take notice. The next two times Barnsley's Nigerian striker Kayode Odejayi(remember the name) touched the ball, Chelsea fouled him. Odejayi proved to be very dangerous in this one as he used his far from normal size and incredible speed and stamina for his size.
On more than one occasion, last win's hero and captain Brian Howard had a go, but he missed out on a goal. Then it looked like Barnsley had grabbed a goal when Istvan Ferenczi hit a shot crackling by Carlo Cudicini and hitting off the outside of the post.
After that, Chelsea seemed to settle in a bit, but Avram Grant still wasn't happy when halftime struck. At halftime, I was sitting here thinking about how they could win it, and I honestly thought that the money men of Chelsea would find a way to get it done. But I will gladly admit that I was wrong.
After the break, Chelsea came out with a renewed vigor if you will. They came with a mindset of we are going to score, and you just can't stop us. But the Tykes battled back in more than dramatic fashion. Every time Chelsea came up with a very good chance that did not balloon way over the goal, the Barnsley defenders led by Bobby Hassell would block it. And if they didn't, young goalkeeper Luke Steele would save it.
I knew that if the Tykes were to get back in it, they would have to push a little more. After about 20 to 25 minutes, the Tykes were sick and tired of playing tough defence, and decided to push into attack. Well, in the 66th minute, we found the breakthrough when Odejayi found the back of the net off a Martin Devaney cross from the wing. I could feel the tension running through me. I was feeling goosebumps and the win was inevitable at that point. I just knew that they would do it.
The cross was marvelous, but the finish was spectacular. Showing the heart of lion, Odejayi fought off long-time Chelsea back-up 'keeper Cudicini and headed the ball into the net. One would probably ask what was Cudicini thinking. Well, I don't know, but I know it wasn't his fault. It was just a superb play and leaping ability from the Nigerian striker who hadn't scored since September. The goal in my mind was all destiny, and nothing anyone could do about it. Had Petr Cech been in goal, I highly doubt he would have made the save. So, don't put the loss in Cudicini's box.
For the next 22 minutes, it was truly hell on earth for the Barnsley fans. Chelsea really beared down on the Tykes, so much that they would fully abandon their defensive responsibilities and push into attack. A couple of times, Blues captain John Terry blasted the ball over the goal, and a few times the Barnsley defence wanted it more. In the 80th minute, Odejayi was substituted after running his hind end off.
At the 90 minute mark, I was curious to see how much time was going to be added. We got the answer very soon. It would be three minutes of added time. This sent the loyal fans of the Tykes in a nervous frenzy. At one time in those three minutes, the ref blew for a foul and a couple of the fans ran on the field thinking it was over. That's how bad it was. After three minutes of desperation for Chelsea, the ref blew the whistle and ended the match and the cup holders were out.
The fans stormed the field, the stadium seemed to shake, and I left off a yell. For Barnsley had just put two of the best and richest clubs in the history of world soccer and sports out of the FA Cup two games in a row.
Now before the match, I felt it wouldn't be close and it was all because of that Olympiakos thrashing in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. The key bit of motivation though came when Avram Grant couldn't even recall the name of the stadium. I think that Grant will forever remember the night that he and his great group of players walked in to Oakwell and lost to the giant killers of Barnsley. We now know that Barnsley was and isn't a fluke.
In my opinion, this match is the second greatest match I've ever seen. If you ever get a chance to watch the match in full, please do because you will enjoy the action. As always, thank you and I hope you enjoyed this blog.