The 2007/08 campaign would have been largely forgotten by Barnsley fans if their club had not produced heroics in the FA Cup.
An underwhelming 18th placed finish in the Championship saw them occasionally flirt with relegation to the third tier of English football before pulling clear of the drop zone with a handful of games to play whilst in the League Cup they suffered a second-round exit from the competition, losing to Newcastle United.
Barnsley – FA Cup, 2008
The Tykes FA Cup run began with a 2-1 victory over Blackpool and was followed by a 1-0 win at Southend United in the fourth round which set up a mouthwatering clash with Liverpool at Anfield. Simon Davey’s side entered the clash as huge underdogs and looked to be exiting the competition when Dirk Kuyt put the Reds ahead in the first half. However, buoyed by a backing of 6,000 supporters, Barnsley equalised courtesy of a header from Stephen Foster before Brian Howard fired in a last-minute winner to secure a dramatic victory and a quarter-final clash with Chelsea.
At the time of the clash, the Blues were the defending champions in the FA Cup and entered the game at Oakwell as overwhelming favourites. With a starting eleven that included the likes of Joe Cole, John Terry, Michael Ballack and Nicolas Anelka, manager Avram Grant would have been incredibly confident of beating the Tykes. Yet, on a famous night in Yorkshire, Barnsley once again overcame the odds to secure their second cup upset in two rounds as a header from Kayode Odejayi dumped Chelsea out of the competition, setting up a semi-final clash with fellow Championship Cardiff City.
Although the Tykes were experiencing a poor season in the league, their cup form would have led their supporters to believe that they could beat the Bluebirds at Wembley Stadium. However, in what was their first FA Cup semi-final in 96 years, Barnsley were unable to repeat their previous heroics as a Joe Ledley goal saw Cardiff prevail to a showdown with Portsmouth.
That was a huge missed opportunity – as we’re sure you’ll all agree. Yes, it was a remarkable journey but it probably peaked too soon, considering the level of opposition they had beaten and then the state of the teams remaining.
Obviously, since this clash, the Tykes have failed to make it past the quarter-final stage in the competition which illustrates just how great their achievement was in 2008. Not only did it draw international attention due to their wins over Liverpool and Chelsea but it also provided their supporters with moments that they will never forget.
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