On Carabao Cup third-round day, we cast our mind back to a previous League Cup visit from the divisions below, but at a much later stage of the competition…
The most recent team from League Two to visit Stamford Bridge in the League Cup were Wycombe Wanderers, who worked wonders to reach the two-legged semi-finals in January 2007.
The fourth-tier side, sixth in their division, secured a shock 1-1 draw in the first game at Adams Park, Wayne Bridge sparing the Blues’ blushes. It is fair to say the rest of the country was hoping the Chairboys would see the task through in the second leg at the Bridge a fortnight later – especially fans of Arsenal, who had already booked their seat for the final.
Jose Mourinho had been critical of his second-string side not showing up in the away leg and strengthened-up for the return, with Andriy Shevchenko recalled. The former AC Milan striker had not found the net for 10 matches, however, and was under fire for what was perceived as slow adaptation to the English game.
Helpfully, Wanderers’ Jermaine Easter offered comfort to the Blues’ near-£30m record signing. ‘I left Stockport and it took me a while to settle in,’ said the Buckinghamshire club’s £10,000 striker, only half joking.
The Bucks stopped here, though, as Chelsea’s Ukrainian found his mark twice, having missed a close-range header in the opening minute. The first came when he intercepted a cross-field pass, surged towards goal and slotted into the corner. On the touch line, Mourinho celebrated as if it were a last-minute Champions League winner at Liverpool.
A second, just before half-time, was set up by Didier Drogba and dispatched equally expertly. After the break the Londoners’ lead was extended in similar fashion, this time by Frank Lampard (though Sky Sports’ commentator initially acclaimed Shevchenko). The same player then guided home to complete the 4-0 victory and set up the first ever all-London League Cup final against rivals Arsenal, played in Cardiff.
Sadly for Wycombe, the cup heroics did nothing for their league prospects: they won just three of their remaining 17 matches.
Read more about the 2007 League Cup campaign