Friday, February 10, 2023

Wigan 1-1 Sutton (6-7 pens): Matt Gray’s League Two newcomers reach Papa John’s Trophy final

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Goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis was the hero as Sutton beat Wigan 7-6 on penalties to advance to the Papa John’s Trophy final in their maiden season in the competition.

The Australian stopper made two crucial saves in the shootout – after the score remained at 1-1 after 90 minutes at the DW Stadium – and scored a spot-kick of his own as Matt Gray’s men booked their spot at Wembley when the competition reaches its conclusion next month.

Tuesday night’s game had started in an ideal fashion for Sutton, who took the lead with just under half an hour on the clock. Will Randall had the ball fed into his feet by Donovan Wilson, before he coolly slotted home the opening goal.

Wigan had knocked out Arsenal U21 in the quarter-final and were not about to give up hopes of a Wembley return, where they had so famously beaten Manchester City 1-0 to claim the FA Cup nine years earlier.

Within 10 minutes, they were level when James McClean slammed home despite accusations of handball in the build-up to the equaliser. But despite enjoying long spells of possession throughout the second half, they were unable to force a winner.

And so the game would be decided from the penalty spot. Sutton captain Craig Eastmond kept his cool to fire home the first, before the Latics were dealt an early blow when Max Power’s effort was kept out by Bouzanis.

Harry Beautyman then had his spot-kick saved by Jamie Jones, but the next 11 all found the back of the net – and looked to be getting more impressive as the shootout progressed.

Wigan’s Tendayi Darikwa then stepped up, with his powerful shot beaten away by Bouzanis to spark wild celebrations from the travelling fans.

Sutton will now face the winner of the other semi-final clash on Wednesday night, when Hartlepool host Rotherham at the Suit Direct Stadium, in a game live on Sky Sports Football.

Wednesday 9th March 7:30pm

Kick off 7:45pm

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