After lowly Barnsley defeated Liverpool and Chelsea, many of us thought the FA should award them the FA Cup then and there. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Barnsley still needed to defeat fellow upstarts Cardiff City just to make it to the finals.
It didn’t happen. Instead, Cardiff’s Bluebirds (managed by ex-Everton player David Jones) defeated Barnsley (managed by Welshman Simon Davey, a disciple of Everton manager David Moyes) 1-0 at Wembley Stadium on a brilliant goal by young star Joe Ledley. Barnsley actually dominated large portions of the match, particularly in the first half. But a lack of quality in front of the goal sealed their fate. That lack of quality manifested itself most disappointingly when Kayode Odinjayi (hero of the victory over Chelsea) failed to hit the target on a breakaway opportunity. Since Odinjayi has only one other goal to his credit this season, his dreadful miss was less than entirely shocking. After all, there’s a reason why Barnsley’s Cup run has been such a Cinderalla-story.
Barnsley’s fortunes also suffered when City brought on 17 year-old Aaron Ramsey, reportedly coveted by Manchester United. Ramsey, normally a midfielder, filled in at right back. The danger he posed on the flank seemed to limit the forays of Barnsley’s flashy winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce, who had been the Tykes main threat in the first half.
Cardiff City will now attempt to become the first non-English FA Cup winners since they won the trophy in 1927, and the first non-top flight winners since 1976. They will have their work cut out against Portsmouth, which sits sixth in the Premiershp, one place below Everton.
Barnsley will now concentrate on remaining in England’s second-tier league. Currently they are in the relegation zone, albeit with at least a game in hand over all of the teams just ahead of them. Their struggle to remain in the second-tier may come down to the last day, when they will play Cardiff City.
Whatever happens, Barnsley got a trip to Wembley and, more importantly, helped put the romance back in the FA Cup.
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