John Terry’s return from his lengthy injury spell couldn’t inspire Chelsea to an FA Cup victory over Brentford at Griffin Park today, as the Bees battled to earn a Stamford Bridge replay.
Chelsea dominated possession in the first ten minutes of the game, not allowing Brentford any time on the ball. Ashley Cole drilled a cross past the goal face early on, but Fernando Torres failed to get on the end of it.
Brentford’s first chance of the match came after Ramires squandered possession and allowed them to break quickly, but Marcello Trotta failed to hit his shot cleanly.
Chelsea handed Brentford a golden opportunity after a defensive mix up between John Terry and Ross Turnbull in the 11th minute, the referee awarding a free kick in the box after the stand in goalkeeper collected Terry’s back pass.
Harry Forrester fired the free kick over the bar, saving Chelsea’s blushes.
Brentford soon had another set piece opportunity via a corner, which Ivanovic managed to clear it after it fell short.
Chelsea slowly began to settle, but Brentford kept their shape well and prevented the blues from really imposing themselves. Marko Marin failed to conjure up anything from the teams first corner of the match.
Clayton Donaldson showed his great turn of pace as he made a scorching run down the left flank, but Ramires managed to shut down the threat.
With thirty minutes gone Brentford were the happier of the two sides, preventing Chelsea from creating anything in front of goal and enjoying a few half chances of their own.
Adam Forshaw unleashed a powerful shot, which thankfully for Turnbull went wide of the post. The Bees squandered another great chance after a poor Gary Cahill pass gifted them possession.
Brentford continued to hold things together at the back, and were soon putting chelsea under pressure again. Forshaw saw his long range effort dealt with comfortably by Turnbull.
The home side took the lead in the 42nd minute, Trotta firing in a lovely shot from a rebound after Frank Lampard was caught in possession by Forshaw. 1-0.
Gary Cahill received a yellow card for a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box as the half wound down. After the resulting Brentford free kick came to nothing, Chelsea failed to conjure up anything on the counter as Oscar was shut down easily enough.
An insipid half of football from Chelsea, surely not another cup upset on the cards?
Rafael Benitez made a solitary change at the half, replacing Marko Marin with Juan Mata.
Chelsea failed to make the most of a couple of free kicks in the final third early on, but Mata’s early touches looked encouraging.
Chelsea pulled level in the 54th minute, Ryan Bertrand playing a ball into the box which was met by the head of a Brentford defender. Oscar gathered the ball as it fell from the sky, promptly turning and beating two opponents before firing home a neat shot. 1-1.
Chelsea began to control the match, dictating the tempo and denying Brentford time on the ball but still failing to exert themselves in front of goal.
The Bees began to work their way back into contention slowly but surely, putting pressure on Ross Turnbull from a pair of corners as the game approached the 70th minute mark.
Brentford scorer Trotta was the first to be replaced by manager Uwe Rosler, who brought on Tom Adeyemi in his stead.
Brentford were awarded a penalty in the 71st minute after Turnbull was adjudged to have brought down Adeyemi in the box, picking up a yellow card in the process.
Young Harry Forrester slotted home the spot kick, sending the home supporters into a state of ecstasy as the Bees once again found themselves on top. 2-1.
Chelsea threw themselves forward in a desperate attempt to find an equaliser, but Brentford continued to deny the European champions. Branislav Ivanovic tried to get the better of the keeper with an overhead strike, but came up short.
He soon found himself substituted in the 78th minute, as Rafael Benitez opted to bring on Cesar Azpilicueta. Scott Barron replaced Harry Forrester for Brentford.
Demba Ba replaced Ryan Bertrand in the 81st minute, after the young Englishman made a mess of an opportunity to get a header on target.
Fernando Torres’ first shot on target pulled the blues level, as Ba battled to win the ball and play him through on goal. A lovely strike from the Spaniard, 2-2.
Brentford’s Adam Forshaw was brought off, being replaced by Sam Saunders.
Lampard had a late effort on goal with a dipping shot in the 86th, but the keeper dealt with it easily enough.
Brentford sat deep as the game headed into extra-time, intent to get across the line and seal up a hard earned Stamford Bridge replay at all costs.
A late handball shout was turned down by the referee in the 3rd minute of extra time, killing off the prospect of a last gasp Chelsea winner via the penalty spot.
Brentford emerged at the final whistle to a chorus of applause, and they will surely be the toast of the Football League after holding Chelsea to a draw in a spirited display.
Chelsea’s first half performance was uninspired, severely lacking in every department, and the second half improvement will do little to quell Rafael Benitez’ detractors.