Papa Johns Trophy: Plymouth Argyle, Bolton Wanderers, Accrington Stanley and Cheltenham Town reach semi-finals


Jon Dadi Bodvarsson scores Bolton's winner against Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy quarter-finals
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (centre) scores Bolton’s winner against Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy quarter-finals

There could be a new name on the Papa Johns Trophy as three former winners were knocked out on Tuesday.

Three of the semi-finalists have never previously reached the final of the competition, first contested in 1984.

Brentford loanee Aaron Pressley scored twice to help Accrington pip lincoln while Plymouth beat Bristol Rovers and League Two Salford lost at Cheltenham.

Portsmouth lost at Boltonwho will seek to win the trophy for a second time after their only win in 1989.

Accrington needed penalties to defeat the 2018 winners Lincoln. Skipper Tom Hopper put the Imps ahead after charging down a kick from keeper Lukas Jensen, but Pressley leveled before the break and completed the turnaround from the spot with 17 minutes remaining after a foul on Shaun Whalley.

Hopper’s close-range header from Max Sanders’ deflected shot sent the tie to spot-kicks, but the Imps – who lost on penalties in the 2021 semi-finals – saw Danny Mandroiu and Sanders denied by Jensen and Regan Poole miss the target, allowing Sean McConville to seal the shootout 3-1 and send Stanley into the last four.

Accrington are only one match away from their first-ever appearance at Wembley.

Bristol Rovers, twice-beaten finalists, made six changes and were well-beaten by League One rivals Plymouth.

Argyle took the lead on 24 minutes with a looping header from Ben Waine and, though the New Zealand international spurned a couple of golden chances to increase his tally, Ryan Hardie broke free to double the advantage on 32 minutes.

Ryan Hardie doubles Plymouth's lead against Bristol Rovers in their EFL Trophy semi-final
Ryan Hardie doubles Plymouth’s lead against Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium

Rovers came from 2-0 down at half-time to salvage a point in the teams’ league game in October but there was no repeat as Waine had a goal ruled for offside while John Marquis spurned a glorious chance to set up a grandstand finish.

Salford, 2020 winners and the last remaining League Two side, bowed out at Cheltenham despite Callum Hendry giving them the lead on 13 minutes with an acrobatic finish after Luke Southwood parried Theo Vassell’s header.

At the other end Alex Cairns tipped Alfie May’s thunderbolt on to the crossbar, but Ryan Broom equalized just before the break and the tie was settled by two goals inside 60 seconds just after the hour. Liam Sercombe lashed home from close range before playing in Stoke loanee Will Goodwin to score on his debut.

Bolton saw off 2019 winners Portsmouth when the hosts netted the only goal on 17 minutes through Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, who finished on the break after good work from Dion Charles.

Bolton were denied a second on the stroke of half-time by Sean Raggett’s superb block on the line from Owen Beck, and although the 2020 losing finalists did mount a late fightback, James Trafford denied Reeco Hackett-Fairchild a last-gasp leveller.

The semi-final draw will take place on Saturday, 14 January, with the ties taking place in the week commencing 20 February.

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