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Papa Johns Trophy

Report: Bolton Wanderers cruise to victory in the Papa Johns Trophy Final

2 April 2023

Bolton Wanderers lifted the Papa Johns Trophy at Wembley, beating Plymouth Argyle 4-0 by the largest-ever margin in the Final in front of over 70,000 fans.

In the end, the Trotters cruised to victory in the showpiece, which boasted the highest attendance at a football fixture in Europe this weekend.

Wanderers made a dream start through Kyle Dempsey in the fourth minute. The midfielder was allowed a free header at the far post, leaping to meet Declan John’s corner kick and nod in the opening goal of the game, sending the blue and white half of the National Stadium into raptures.

The goal scorer turner provider just six minutes later as Trotters top scorer Dion Charles netted his 19th goal of the campaign and perhaps the most important strike of his season. With 10 minutes on the clock, a well-worked move ended with the striker slotting home from close range after Dempsey fed Charles to make it 2-0.

Argyle refused to go down without a fight as the Pilgrims fashioned a handful of openings. Skipper Joe Edwards saw his effort blocked by Whites captain Ricardo Almeida Santos, before Callum Wright dragged an effort wide of the upright.

Bolton went close to a third in the 20th minute as Ian Evatt’s side exploited the right channel once again. A cut-back picked out Dempsey in the danger zone and the 27-year-old’s effort was cleared off the line by Edwards before Callum Burton gathered as Argyle breathed a sigh of relief.

At the other end of the pitch, Jordan Houghton slid in Ryan Hardie and the prolific marksman was thwarted by a good save from Trotters keeper James Trafford between the sticks.

Argyle appealed for a penalty after Bali Mumba weaved his way into the box, only to be brought down by Declan John, but shouts for a spot-kick were waved away by referee Ben Toner.

Desperate for his second of the afternoon, Dempsey, who found himself through on goal, looked certain to ripple the net for Bolton, but Burton produced the stop.

After a rare quiet spell in the game, the half time whistle sounded, meaning Wanderers took a comfortable 2-0 advantage into the break.

Following the restart, Evatt’s men picked up right where they left off. Elias Kachunga raced into the box, after some good work from Charles won back possession, and stroked the ball into the far corner to make it 3-0 with 49 minutes on the watch.

Ex-Argyle loanee Gethin Jones came back to haunt his former team and put the game beyond all doubt with 62 minutes played. The defender nodded from a corner kick in to make it 4-0 to the Whites in an almost carbon copy of the opening goal.

Despite the score-line, Argyle continued to press for a goal. Substitute Matt Butcher saw his shot from the edge of the area deflected wide after Finn Azaz teed up his teammate.

And Wanderers saw out the game to register a record triumph in the competition and lift the EFL Trophy for the second time in the Club’s history. 

Bolton Wanderers: James Trafford, Ricardo Almeida Santos, Gethin Jones, Eoin Toal (George Johnston 86'), Conor Bradley, Declan John, Josh Sheehan (George Thomason 82’), Aaron Morley (MJ Williams 82’), Kyle Dempsey (Kieran Lee 72’), Dion Charles (Cameron Jerome 72’), Elias Kachunga.

Plymouth Argyle: Callum Burton, Macauley Gillesphey (Brendan Golloway 66’), Jordan Houghton, James Wilson, Dan Scarr, Joe Edwards, Ryan Hardie, Danny Mayor (Matt Butcher 45’), Bali Mumba (Mickel Miller 72’), Callum Wright (Finn Azaz 54’), Jay Matete (Sam Cosgrove 45’).

Player of the Match: Kyle Dempsey

Attendance: 79,389

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