FA Cup – Cardiff reach FA Cup final
The Championship side won a fiercely-contested semi-final against their league rivals, for whom Kayode Odejayi missed a huge opportunity to level the match.
The Welsh club were fighting for their existence only a few months ago but now find themselves with a chance of winning a major trophy.
From thereon in it was all about Simon Davey’s men, who dominated the half applying incessant pressure without making it tell.
On-loan Blackburn keeper Peter Enckelman looked shaky, missing crosses and punching wildly to nearly let Odejayi and Dennis Souza in.
Odejayi was then guilty of a bad miss when he turned Martin Devaney’s excellent, low, near-post cross straight into Enckelman, while Barnsley’s on-loan keeper Luke Steele had a hairy moment when he spilled Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink’s daisy-cutter into the path of Trevor Sinclair, atoning with a sliding save.
Istvan Ferenczi then headed Marciano van Homoet’s cross wide from a good position at the far post as the Tykes continued to pile the pressure on. Odejayi went close with a blocked shot and attempted header, Devaney sent in a couple of superb balls that deserved better movement and Bluebirds defender Kevin McNaughton – who limped off early in the second half with a back problem – appeared to handle in the box. Referee Alan Wiley waved away Barnsley’s penalty protests.
The second half started more evenly as the two sides traded attacks. Gavin Rae had splendid chance to double Cardiff’s lead but could only head straight at Steele after good wing play by Ledley.
Enckelman, meanwhile, continued to look uneasy, spilling a Devaney cross and mis-punching a corner; Odejayi and Hassell respectively failed to make him pay. The hour mark saw Barnsley regain their control of the passing play and Cardiff introduced Steven Thomspson for makeshift forward Trevor Sinclair, who struggled to fill in for injured top scorer Paul Parry.
The key moment for Barnsley came on 66 minutes when Odejayi – the goal hero against Chelsea in the quarter-finals – was responsible for a howling miss when put clean through by Brian Howard.
The Nigerian’s composure deserted him and, given an age to line up his shot, somehow placed the ball wide wide of Enckelman’s near post when one-on-one with the Cardiff keeper.
Barnsley were now committing men forward and Guy Whittingham went close on the break for Cardiff with a swerving long-range effort that landed on the roof of the net.
The Bluebirds really should have grabbed a second when a mistake from defender Stephen Foster let Rae in, however Luke Steele smothered the ball after the Scot’s first touch took him too close to the on-loan West Brom keeper.
The Tykes continued to apply pressure, resorting to long balls by the end, one of which almost let Michael Coulson in, but Cardiff held on for a huge win that takes them to an FA Cup final for the first time since they won the competition in 1927.
Reda Maher / Eurosport