Match Report

Match report: Barnsley 0 Chelsea 1

On a freezing night in Yorkshire, the Blues had to wait until midway through the second half to find a way through a spirited Barnsley side, but a Tammy Abraham goal was sufficient to send us into next round of the FA Cup, our first success over the Tykes in this competition after two previous defeats.

The most recent of those was back in 2008 when Avram Grant’s Chelsea were knocked out at Oakwell but this time the only goal of the game went the way of the visitors and three Chelsea Academy players combined for it, Abraham netting from close range after Billy Gilmour’s quickness of thought and Reece James pace and cross had created the opening.

Barnsley could count themselves the more unfortunate not to have taken the lead in the goalless first half. Having started the better side, their wing-back Callum Brittain had a shot well saved early on by Kepa Arrizabalaga and then saw another go narrowly wide just before the break.

Chelsea had improved between those chances, with Hakim Ziyech’s first-time passing, the odd dart from Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s enterprise down the right looking the mostly likely to make something for Abraham up front, but we did not properly threaten the goal in the opening half.

The Championship side again gave a good account of themselves after the restart, Chelsea never able to properly settle, and we were thankful for a goal-line clearance by Abraham for preserving the lead given by his fourth FA Cup goal of the season.

Que Sera Sera

The Blues have taken a step closer to Wembley by reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the fifth time in six seasons. The draw for the last eight was made shortly before kick-off in tonight’s game and we will play another side from South Yorkshire, Sheffield United, but this time at home. The game will take place between 19 and 22 March.

 

The selection

Only Andreas Christensen kept his place from the win up here in another part of Yorkshire at the weekend. Thomas Tuchel had said he would need fresh minds and bodies for this one but he was still able to chose a strong line-up and for the first time selected Kepa, Kurt Zouma, Emerson Palmieri and Billy Gilmour in his initial selection.

He kept a back-three and it was Emerson joining Christensen and Zouma in it, with Marcos Alonso and Callum Hudson-Odoi again operating as wing-backs. The formation was changed for the second half. 

Under pressure

Chelsea had to do a fair amount of defending in the early stages and 10 minutes in, we were thankful for Kepa’s close-range block from Brittain after a cross from the left had been allowed through our defence towards the back post.

A tackle on Abraham by Toby Sibbick effectively turned into a shot from distance which was gathered above his head by former Chelsea Academy goalie Brad Collins and that was the best we had to show for quite a while.

Ziyech won the ball high up the pitch but could not thread it through to our no.9 who was setting off towards goal. Moments later, Gilmour did find Abraham with a pass but he was tackled and muted appeals for a penalty were waved away

A tackle on Abraham by Toby Sibbick effectively turned into a shot from distance which was gathered above his head by former Chelsea Academy goalie Brad Collins and that was the best we had to show for quite a while.

Ziyech won the ball high up the pitch but could not thread it through to our no.9 who was setting off towards goal. Moments later, Gilmour did find Abraham with a pass but he was tackled and muted appeals for a penalty were waved away.
 

On 33 minutes, Alonso did well to head behind a threatening cross close to goal and under a challenge as Barnsley started to exert pressure again. Soon after and out wide the Spaniard could not prevent a cross coming in but this time our opposite wing-back Hudson-Odoi was there to clear behind.

Chelsea’s best move of the first 45 came five minutes before the interval as the ball was switched across the pitch at pace, but a stretching Pulisic could not turn Hudson-Odoi’s cross on target.

Just before half-time there was a big scare for Chelsea when Barnsley worked a short-corner routine across the turf and Bittain’s shot was deflected just wide.

Taking our chance

Tuchel made changes at half-time. He moved to a back-four with Alonso and Christensen (who had needed treatment in the first half) removed and Reece James and Toni Rudiger on. Emerson moved to full-back and Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic swapped wings.

Despite those alterations, Barnsley again started the half the stronger. That was until Hudson-Odoi, now cutting in from the left, slalomed superbly into the penalty area but shot across goal and wide.

An hour into the game, Callum won a free-kick which was delivered by Ziyech towards the aerial threat that is Zouma but though the big man went close, it was not close enough.

We only had to wait a few minutes later for the deadlock to be broken. Having won the ball inside the Barnsley half, the Blues sprung into action and made the most of the space. Gilmour spotted James’ run and found him, and when the right-back centred, Abraham was in the right place to tap home. Incisive and decisive!

Barnsley came within inches of equalising when Abraham headed a goalbound effort over from underneath the Chelsea crossbar.

That was much appreciated by his colleagues but there was more defending needed before the end as Barnsley sent in set-pieces, but they failed force extra-time and Tuchel’s side had two wins in this part of the world in the space of five days.

What's next?

No match this weekend for the Blues as we are in Premier League action on Monday night when Newcastle visit London Town. Steve Bruce's side are currently 16th in the table while we will be aiming for a double over them, having won at St James' Park back in November. 

Chelsea (3-4-3): Kepa; Christensen (Rudiger, h-t), Zouma, Emerson; Hudson-Odoi, Kante (c), Gilmour, Alonso (James, h-t); Ziyech (Anjorin 69), Abraham, Pulisic (Kovacic 80). 
Unused subs 
Caballero, Azplicueta, Chilwell, Bate, Giroud.
Scorer 
Abraham 64

Barnsley
(3-4-3): Collins;  Sibbick (Sollbauer 76), Helik, Andersen; Brittain (Williams 73), Kane (Palmer 73), Mowatt (c), Styles; Woodrow, Chaplin (Frieser 59), Adeboyejo (Dike, 59). 
Unused subs Walton, Moon, Oduor, Thompson.

Referee Martin Atkinson

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