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Papa Johns Trophy

Youth shines through in the EFL Trophy

23 September 2020

The EFL Trophy has a long history of giving young players a platform to showcase their talents, and last night was no different.

The Group Stage action continued on Tuesday evening, with an impressive 19 goals scored across five fixtures in the Northern and Southern sections respectively.

One such effort came in AFC Wimbledon's 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion U21s, and won't be forgotten in a hurry. Eighteen-year-old striker Zach Robinson netted his first senior goal for the club to edge his side closer to the knockout stages, having signed a first professional deal in the summer.

The biggest win of the night, though, came in the North West, where Wigan Athletic came from behind to beat Liverpool U21s 6-1. 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.

Elsewhere, Stevenage saw off Southampton U21s in a dramatic 2-1 win, thanks in part to a debut goal from 23-year-old forward Marcus Dinanga. It was an excellent strike, and an overall display which earned him the Man of the Match award. Boro fans will undoubtedly be hoping it's the first of many for the club.

Shrewsbury Town also carded a big win, beating Newcastle United U21s 3-0, in a game which saw Salop's 16-year-old Tom Bloxham step off the bench to make his first-team debut. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Nigel Aris was also named among the Shrews' substitutes.

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.

The likes of Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi and Leicester City's Hamza Choudhury are also part of a long list of players who were handed their first taste of first-team action in this competition.

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