Foreign legion go back to Wembley

Football: Chesterfield 0 Middlesbrough 3

The impossible dream proved just that at Hillsborough last night as Chesterfield failed to become the first club from the lower orders to reach the FA Cup final.

FA Cup history was made in this semi-final replay, but instead of Chesterfield reaching the final for the first time, Middlesbrough did so. The spectre of relegation still haunts them but a first trophy in 121 years beckons. The multi-million pound investment of chairman Steve Gibson has earned deserved reward.

The scoreline seems harsh but it was an accurate reflection of the match. Once Mikkel Beck's early goal had given Boro confidence the result was never in doubt. Fabrizio Ravanelli settled the issue 11 minutes into the second half and Emerson added the gloss in injury time. The first two were made by Juninho who ran the game. He and Emerson will be the first Brazilians to play in the FA Cup final. Ravanelli, with Gianluca Festa and Chelsea's Azzurri, the first Italians.

Chesterfield will be on their holidays on 17 May, when Middlesbrough meet Chelsea at Wembley. While pasting up their scrapbooks they may pause to recall John Howard's "goal" at Old Trafford - the one which would have put them 3-1 up if David Elleray had not controversially disallowed it - and wonder what might have been.

Their manager, John Duncan, had placed his faith in the same team which had performed so heroically in the 3-3 draw nine days earlier but did so with a difference. At Old Trafford Mark Jules man-marked Juninho; last night he was back in his customary left-back berth.

Juninho, after looking around to see if Leicester's Pontus Kamark (who dogged him in the Coca-Cola Cup final at Hillsborough last week) was still on his shoulder, revelled in the space. It was a positive, if misguided move by Duncan. "I thought we could give them problems if we pushed both forwards up on their centre-backs," he said. "But we had to keep our shape."

If Hillsborough held unhappy memories for Middlesbrough after last Tuesday's defeat, they were nothing compared to the demons they held for Billy Mercer as he ran out to defend the Leppings Lane End for the first half. Eight years ago the goalkeeper, a Liverpool fan, had been in the top deck of the stand as the Hillsborough tragedy unfolded beneath him. He had only been back to the ground once, a few weeks ago, and admitted he found it hard to put those events to the back of his mind.

Chesterfield began with confidence, Middlesbrough with a lack of it. Nervous defending led Emerson to give away a third-minute free-kick from which Mark Williams brought a good save from Ben Roberts. Then Juninho took an 11th-minute pass from Emerson and, as Chesterfield stood off him, he threaded the ball to Beck who clipped it past Mercer and in off the far post. The cares of the season were lifted from them. "It was important to score the first goal," their manager, Bryan Robson, said.

In quick succession Juninho now set up Neil Cox and Ravanelli before, after 23 minutes, he played a ball into Beck, skipped through to take the return and gently lifted the ball over Mercer. The Brazilian wheeled away to celebrate but Elleray was not about to let an important match pass without an intervention. "No goal" he declared, later citing shirt- pulling by Beck.

Still, it was Boro who went closest to ending the half with a goal when Steve Vickers met Juninho's free-kick, only to be denied by a brilliant save from Mercer.

Howard almost got on the end of Kevin Davies's cross in the opening minutes of the second period, then Juninho took control. Operating on the left, he won and took a series of free-kicks as he tormented Chesterfield. Mercer saved well from one but, 11 minutes into the half, Ravanelli got there first to head past the goalkeeper.

Middlesbrough were all but there. Yet the memory of Leicester and Chesterfield's late goals lingered and, when Chris Beaumont almost scored with four minutes left their fans looked tense. Emerson, set up by Ravanelli, quelled their fears with a fierce drive.

While his team celebrated, Robson remembered Boro's other concern. "This is a big boost," he said. "The FA Cup final will be something to look forward to during the League matches coming up. It would have been hard to lift them if we had lost."

Chesterfield (4-4-2): Mercer; Hewitt, Williams, Dyche, Jules; Howard (Carr, 61), Curtis, Holland (Beaumont, 71), Perkins; Morris, Davies. Substitute not used: Leaning (gk).

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Roberts; Cox (Whyte, 70), Vickers, Pearson, Blackmore; Hignett, Mustoe, Emerson, Juninho (Stamp, 90); Beck, Ravanelli (Freestone, 90).

Referee: D Elleray (Harrow).

More reports, results, page 30

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...