Hartlepool United attacker Luke Molyneux is the Papa John’s Trophy Player of the Round for the Quarter-Final.
The 23-year-old notched the equaliser as the Pools edged out Sky Bet League One opposition in Charlton Athletic to reach the Semi-Final of the competition.
The hosts took an early lead, before the Addicks turned the scoreline around. However, Molyneux struck back to level proceedings with around 15 minutes left on the watch and take the game to a penalty shoot-out.
“I only played about 20 minutes of the game, but it was nice to get an award!” he said.
“It was nice to beat another League One team. We’ve done that this season in other cups as well as the Papa John’s Trophy. It was a tough game, and they were a good team, but I feel like we deserved the win in the end.
“We were creating a lot of chances. Especially in the first half of the game, we were creating a lot, but we weren’t taking them, and they were just a lot more ruthless than us. We always had the belief that we were going to come back into it.”
Minutes after being introduced as a substitute in place of Olufela Olomola, the winger took aim from the edge of the area in the 73rd minute, curling in the Pools’ second goal of the evening to make it 2-2.
“It’s been my trademark quite a bit this season,” he added.
The Pools triumphed 5-4 on spot-kicks, as Molyneux kept his cool from 12 yards to slot home his penalty and play his part.
He is no stranger to a shoot-out, having beaten Carlisle United and Morecambe on penalties in the early Group Stage, and Molyneux maintains a 100% record from the spot, scoring three out of three of his penalty kicks.
“It was nerve-wracking. We’ve had a few penalty shoot-outs this season. We’re quite used to it and we were quite positive going into it. Luckily, we got the win.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we practiced for the next one because it’s just as big as any other."
Now just one game away from the Final, the Pools remain unbeaten in the Papa John’s Trophy, having placed second in Northern Group A, followed by victories over Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton Wanderers and, most recently, Charlton in the Quarter-Final.
“We went into this competition open-minded,” Molyneux noted. “Whatever team we’ve put out, we’ve performed. We’ve had some big results against some top teams."
Rotherham United await Hartlepool in the Semi-Final, with the Millers sitting in pole position in the League One standings.
And Molyneux is not underestimating the challenge that the South Yorkshire side pose when they pay a visit to the Suit Direct Stadium next month.
“Any player will say that Wembley is sometimes a once-in-a-career experience. To get the chance to go there... the boys will give everything we can.
“I’m looking forward to the next round – the Rotherham game in March. It’ll be a tough game; they’re definitely an in-form team. We’ll have to give our all. They’re the time of team that can play both way; they’ll play the ball on the floor, but they’ve also got some big lads to kick it up top if they need to. We need to do what we can to stop these types of players.”