Premier League Chelsea made it through unscathed in their FA Cup Fourth Round fixture against Preston North End this afternoon, the London side winning 2-0 away from home against their Championship opponents.
The scoreline could, however, have been much closer. After Cheslea took the lead on 37 minutes through Nicolas Anelka, Preston were presented with an excellent chance to level the scores when Brown forced Hilario – standing in for Petr Cech in the Cheslsea goal – to make a full-stretch save and a chance to score in the unguarded net dropped to Darren Carter inside two yards. Somehow the player contrived to shin the ball over the bar, with John Terry flailing in the empty net.
John Terry had been a cut above at centre half, and the England and Chelsea captain showed his strength in the air on a number of occasions, not least when rising to meet a corner early in the second half despite Mawene almost pulling his shirt off. The header was well saved at point blank range by Lonergan in the Preston net, but Sturridge pounced to score his third goal of the season and effectively kill off this cup tie. This goal came on 47 minutes.
Preston had a couple of half chances in the rest of the match, but Chelsea played comfortably within themselves to record a relatively simple victory and progress to the fifth round of the 2010 FA Cup.
Darren Ferguson can be pleased with his Preston men, as, despite giving Chelsea around 65% of possession, they managed to create several goal-scoring opportunities. Everything that worked well for Preston seemed to go through Brown or Wallace who linked up well against Premier League opposition on the left hand flank for the home team.
Chelsea will be happy with good performances for all, but may be slightly concerned by the first half injury to Belletti – Chelsea appear to be running out of defensive midfielders of late – and the precautionary substitution of Frank Lampard was also far from ideal for the visitors. Deco looked well able to play a holding role in midfield when called upon to do so, however, and his passing was probably as close to 100% as possible. John Terry was imperious, and deserved his man-of-the-match award with some strong defending which saw him win everything that came close to him in the air.
Chelsea were good value for their win, but Preston fans will go home wondering what might have been had they gone in at half time with the score at one all.
- Preston: Lonergan, Hart, Mawene, St. Ledger, Davidson, Sedgwick, Chaplow, Jones, Carter, Wallace, Brown.
- Substitutes: Henderson, Collins, Chilvers, Parkin, Mellor, Barton, Mayor.
- Chelsea: Hilario, Paulo Ferreira, Alex, Terry, Zhirkov, Belletti, Ballack, Lampard, Deco, Anelka, Sturridge.
- Substitutes: Turnbull, Ivanovic, Joe Cole, Malouda, Matic, Borini, Van Aanholt.