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Papa Johns Trophy

Papa John's Trophy: The story so far

1 November 2020

With the next round of Papa John's Trophy fixtures not scheduled to take place until 10 November, we've been taking a look back at what's happened in this year's competition to date.

It's been another Group Stage to remember in the latest instalment of the competition, once again featuring memorable debuts, classic comebacks and goals galore - and it's not over yet!

Sixteen Clubs, including 12 EFL sides - have managed to keep their respective 100 per cent records intact as we edge towards the knockout stages, with Sunderland AFC the leading scorers so far, having found the net a total of 13 times across their two matches.

That tally includes the highest-scoring game of the competition in 2020/21, an 8-1 win for the Black Cats over Aston Villa U21s at the Stadium of Light in Northern Group A. The efforts of Phil Parkinson's men have contributed to a total of 223 goals being scored so far, with Accrington Stanley scoring seven against Leeds United U21s in another of the big wins to date.

As ever, behind the numbers have been a host of fantastic stories and moments to remember, particularly for the latest batch of debutants given a chance to shine in EFL competition. Previous years have seen the likes of Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi and Leicester City's Hamza Choudhury handed a first taste of first-team action in the Trophy, while last season saw Peter Thomas became the youngest player in Rochdale's history, when he made an appearance off the bench in his side's clash with Manchester City U21s in the competition, aged just 15 years and 22 days.

This year has been no different, with several young stars already breaking through. Eighteen-year-old striker Zach Robinson netted his first senior goal for AFC Wimbledon last month to edge his side closer to the knockout stages, having signed a first professional deal in the summer.

Elsewhere, on the same evening, Wigan Athletic academy graduate Charlie Jolley grabbed his first goals for the club with a brace, while Olly Crankshaw got in on the act with his own double on what was his first start, in a 6-1 win over Liverpool U21s. Shrewsbury Town also gave a first-team debut to 16-year-old Tom Bloxham, while 17-year-old Nigel Aris was also named among their substitutes.

"I see it as a really good competition for so many reasons," former Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley said, in a recent interview with the BBC. "It's a great opportunity from a manager's point of view to watch the young players playing competitive football.

Cowley famously led the Imps to a first-ever piece of silverware when his side beat Shrewsbury Town in the 2018 Final at Wembley Stadium, on a day which saw 30,000 of their fans make the journey to London.

"You go through the run we had and the players we played against and where they are now - Ben Godfrey has just joined Everton, there was Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ethan Ampadu and Trevoh Chalobah, who's now on loan in the top division in France."

With 32 further fixtures to follow by mid-November, there's plenty still to look forward to for players, Clubs and fans alike in the 2020/21 competition, with action again made available to watch on iFollow. 

The numbers so far...

Games - 64

Goals in September - 136

Goals in October - 87

Total goals - 223

Avg goals per game - 3.4

Top scorer: Harvey Saunders (Fleetwood Town - 5)

Most assists - Josh Scowen (Sunderland AFC - 3)

Highest scoring game - Sunderland 8-1 Aston Villa U21

View the current Papa John's Trophy Group Stage standings in full here.

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