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Papa Johns Trophy

Five things to look out for in the Papa Johns Trophy Round of 16

13 December 2022

The Papa Johns Trophy is back tonight as the Round of 16 gets underway this evening. Here are five things to look out for ahead of kick-off...

Former champions

There are a handful of former winners still in the mix in the Round of 16, looking to taste success once again.

Most recently, Salford City lifted the trophy in 2020 to claim their first-ever silverware, beating defending champions Portsmouth – who saw off Sunderland in the Final the year prior in 2019 – under the arch at Wembley. And in 2018, Lincoln City edged Shrewsbury Town to win the competition.

All three teams remain in this year’s Papa Johns Trophy. This evening, Salford host Port Vale; Portsmouth entertain Stevenage; and Lincoln are at home to Everton Under-21s.

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Two-time victors Port Vale – winning the competition in 1993 and 2001 – and Milton Keynes Dons – who mark 15 years since their triumph in 2008 – are also amongst those teams battling it out tonight.

Star men

Could there be more heroics on display as the next stage of the knockouts beckons?

Cheltenham Town’s Ryan Broom was presented with the Player of the Round accolade for the Round of 32 after the Robins returnee bagged the equaliser for Wade Elliott’s men in a 1-1 draw with Forest Green Rovers, which saw Cheltenham advance on penalties.

The midfielder clinched the Robins’ place in the next round with the deciding spot-kick, and it will be worth keeping an eye out to see who the standout performer of the Round of 16 will be.

Winning starts

Just two teams boast 100% record in the 2022/23 competition to date, with Stevenage and Port Vale’s impressive starts to the campaign at stake in the Round of 16.

Sky Bet League Two outfit Boro finished top of Southern Group D with the maximum nine points, courtesy of wins over Sky Bet League One sides Peterborough United and Wycombe Wanderers, along with Tottenham Hotspur Under-21s. Steve Evans’ men then played out a five-goal thriller in which they came from behind to beat Arsenal Under-21s.

Next up, Stevenage face Pompey but if their previous results are anything to go by, they’re up for the challenge.

As for Vale, the Valiants took top spot in Northern Group C, with victories over Stockport County, an emphatic 4-0 triumph over Shrewsbury Town, and Wolverhampton Wanderers Under-21s. They then edged out Barnsley in the Round of 32, with a rearranged clash with Salford standing in their way of a place in the Quarter-Final.

Goals aplenty

Expect goals in the Round of 16 with five players still left in the competition tied for the Golden Boot as it stands with three strikes apiece.

Two of the top scorers, Bolton Wanderers’ Kieran Sadlier – who notched four goals in five appearances for winners Rotherham United last term – and Manchester United’s Charlie McNeill will go head-to-head at the University of Bolton Stadium, both looking to boost their individual tallies.

Elsewhere, with six goals between them, Everton Under-21s duo Thomas Cannon and Stanley Mills could return to action for the Toffees when they take on the Imps, and Vale attacker Dennis Politic, who scored a hat-trick in the Group Stage, could lead the line for the Valiants.


Late drama

Some teams left it late to book their place in the next round, including Everton Under-21s, who struck twice in injury time to turn it around against Mansfield Town. Liam Higgins equalised for the Toffees in the 91st minute before leading marksman Cannon equslised made it 2-1 in the 94th minute as it was narrowed it down to the final 16 teams.

Meanwhile, Bristol Rovers saw off Colchester United 2-1 in the Round of 32, but it took Harvey Saunders' 90th minute winner to help them through. James Connolly opened the scoring for the Gas early in the second half before Freddie Sears levelled with less than 10 minutes on the watch, but thankfully for Rovers, Saunders came up with the goods. However, they will be hoping for less drama when they lock horns with MK Dons.

See the full Round of 16 draw here.

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