Blog

South Coast saviours

Chelsea take on Bournemouth tonight with a place in the Carabao Cup semi-finals at stake and we’ll be looking for someone to star in the same manner as these former Blues did against South Coast clubs in the League Cup.

This is a repeat of the last-eight tie we faced in the 2017/18 edition of the competition, when goals from Willian and Alvaro Morata helped us to a 2-1 victory to see off the Cherries and book a semi-final against Arsenal.

Our Spanish striker netted in stoppage time to take the plaudits, joining this group of players who had previously performed heroics to see us past clubs from the South Coast in this competition.

Mike Fillery is not a name that crops up often these days, but fans of a certain age will recall a classy midfield technician who was the standout talent in the early Eighties, winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 1982.

There was nothing to separate Chelsea and Southampton when we met over two legs in the second round in 1981/82. The two sides were locked at 2-2 after 180 minutes, with the Second Division Blues holding our own against a Saints side inspired by the great Kevin Keegan, but Fillery produced an extra-time winner at the Bridge to send us through. Alas, our journey came to an end in the next round against lowly Wigan Athletic.

Kevin Wilson arrived a few years later, sticking out like a sore thumb with the cookie duster moustache above his top lip. He was some player, mind, working in tandem with Kerry Dixon and Gordon Durie to help fire us back into the top flight.

He also helped us to a famous League Cup win over Portsmouth in 1990/91. After a goalless draw in the first match at the Bridge, we travelled to a hostile Fratton Park for a third-round replay. Having gone 2-0 down just after half-time, we staged a remarkable comeback in the final 10 minutes. David Lee and Dennis Wise, from the penalty spot, turned the tie on its head and Wilson raced through to net a scruffy winner in stoppage time.

Prior to last season, our only previous League Cup meetings with the Cherries came in the 1994/95 edition, when we faced them across two legs in the first round. Bournemouth had the worst record in the Football League that season when we welcomed them to the Bridge in September, but a wasteful performance by the Blues saw us breach their net only once. David Rocastle was the scorer, volleying home from the edge of the box after a Wise corner was cleared to him.

Rocky, as he was nicknamed, was a popular member of the dressing room at the Bridge without ever really hitting the same heights he had achieved at Arsenal, when he had been a part of title- and cup-winning sides. He sadly passed away in March 2001 after suffering from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The Blues’ run in this season’s Carabao Cup saw us beat Derby County in the last round, with former Chelsea midfielders Frank Lampard and Jody Morris in the dugout for the Rams. The latter, of course, led our Under-18s to Youth Cup glory, but before that he had been a highly rated youngster at the club in the Nineties.

He played his part in helping to bring this trophy back to Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1965, although our run to League Cup glory in the 1997/98 season saw us go to extra time in every tie apart from the semi-final against Arsenal. But for the intervention of Morris, we would have faced three penalty shoot-outs instead of two. One of four homegrown players to start the game for the Blues, Morris curled home a beauty from just outside the box after being teed up by one of the veterans of the squad, Mark Hughes.

Last, but by no means least, we come to Peter Houseman. Like Rocastle, Nobby is no longer with us, having died in a car crash a few years after leaving the club, and he is remembered as one of the unsung heroes of our back-to-back cup successes in the early-Seventies, scoring in the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United.

The League Cup was the cup competition missing from our trophy collection ahead of the 1971/72 season, and the Blues began our journey to Wembley, which culminated in a surprise defeat to Stoke City, by welcoming Plymouth to west London.

Despite a two-division gaps between the clubs, the Pilgrims gave a good account of themselves but a goal by Houseman, who stabbed home a cross from John Boyle, proved to be the winner before a late effort from John Hollins made the game safe.

MORE FROM CHELSEA