Salford City will be hoping to get their hands on the Papa John’s Trophy this afternoon as they prepare to take on Portsmouth in a Wembley final.
It has been 388 days since Salford booked their place in the final of this competition, defeating Newport County in South Wales on penalties after a goalless draw in normal time.
After over a year of waiting to take on Pompey, they do so this afternoon in a 3pm kick-off at Wembley.
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Salford have won only one of their last six games in League Two, and their bid for a top-seven finish has derailed of late.
Richie Wellens will be hoping that they can get their hands on some silverware this afternoon, in an attempt to reignite their league form and their promotion push.
Salford are the underdogs this afternoon, though, with Pompey pushing for a play-off finish in League One.
Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s clash, EFL on Quest commentator Pat Nevin has offered his thoughts on Salford, admitting that today could be seen as a free hit for them given the quality of their opposition.
He said: “It is (a free hit). It always is for the lower teams, and there’s no pressure. In fact, there is pressure, but much less. Sometimes it does freeze you to be able to go and play your best football.
“They’ve not had the rub of the green, and their recent results have been a little bit like that. No one has been hammering them, so I don’t think they’ll be suffering from a lack of confidence. They’ve just been a bit unlucky and games have been really tight. I think they can walk into this one with a good deal of confidence, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”
Salford will be relying on their two leading goalscorers, Iain Henderson and James Wilson, if they are to cause an upset this afternoon.
Henderson has netted 14 goals in all competitions this season, whilst Wilson has found the net eight times this term.
Speaking about whether those two will be key if the Ammies are to defy the odds this afternoon, Nevin said: “You never know with cups, it’s the weirdest thing! You always think it’s the ‘big name players’, the goalscorers, but sometimes you’re playing in a cup final, and the opposition will be ready for you. You know they expect to see who the ‘big name players’ are, but it’s a final, it can be anyone. It could be the coach!
“They might decide to say ‘I’m going to do something different and unexpected as they look to throw the opposition off a bit. It’s easy to say a goalscorer will be key, but you’ll look back two days later and a hefty centre half will come up and score the winner! Everyone will be dreaming of it, but the great thing is, it could be any of them that wakes up tomorrow with the glory.”
Kevin Phillips/Pat Nevin will be a studio guest for Quest’s highlights of the Papa John’s Trophy Final on Sunday. Stream on discovery+