The glistening arches of Wembley Stadium are just three games away and there are 16 teams remaining in the Papa John’s Trophy with eight clashes on the way, and it all begins this evening when the Round of 16 gets underway.
Two sides who last met in the competition in October 2010, Charlton Athletic and Milton Keynes Dons, lock horns for a place in the Quarter-Final. It was the Addicks who came out on top at Stadium MK in their previous encounter to secure passage from Round Two.
Despite their differing fortunes in the League, Crewe Alexandra and Rotherham United go head-to-head tonight. The Alex – unbeaten in the competition this season – are the only former winners from the last decade still in the running at present, having lifted the Trophy in 2012/13.
Elsewhere, two-time victors Carlisle United – who last won the competition in 2010/11 – travel to North Yorkshire tonight in hopes of making it through to the last eight, but Harrogate Town stand in the way of a third title to match Bristol City’s record.
Hartlepool United host Bolton Wanderers in the Round of 16 when the competition’s remaining top scorer, 20-year-old Huddersfield Town loanee Matty Daly, will be looking to add to his tally, with four goals in three appearances in the Papa John’s Trophy.
A Lancashire derby is on the cards this evening when Oldham Athletic welcome Wigan Athletic to Boundary Park. The hosts ousted reigning champions Sunderland in the previous round, while Wigan saw off local rivals Accrington Stanley.
In their inaugural campaign, Sutton United have stormed through to the Round of 16, topping the Southern Group B in the Group Stage, before beating Stevenage in a penalty shoot-out in Round Two. The competition newcomers will have to overcome Colchester United this evening to progress to the Quarter-Final.
In the capital, Arsenal Under-21s and Chelsea Under-21s will battle it out for a place in the Quarter-Final next week, having beaten Ipswich Town and Forest Green Rovers respectively to reach the Round of 16.
And with Cambridge United’s Round of 16 opponents to be confirmed when Exeter City entertain Portsmouth in Round Two of the competition on Friday, the Quarter-Final beckons for the remaining teams.