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Our EFL Trophy Run: 2022/23

5 September 2023

The Robins kick-off their new EFL Trophy campaign this evening away to Bristol Rovers and will be heading to the Memorial Stadium with memories of last year’s run in the competition.

Wade Elliott’s side embarked on an entertaining journey from the group stages to within touching distance of one of the two coveted spots in the final at Wembley.

This is how it all unfolded.

The Robins began the competition with what was arguably their toughest test of the group stage, a trip to Stadium MK to take on fellow League One outfit MK Dons.

But that wouldn’t faze them, as Alfie May put Town ahead in the first 10 minutes, firing home from the penalty spot.

The hosts would grab an equaliser before the break from Zak Jules, who levelled the scores just minutes before the half-time whistle.

It was Charlie Brown who restored the Robins’ lead nine minutes into the second 45, an advantage they wouldn’t let slip for a second time to secure a 2-1 win to begin the campaign.

A second 2-1 win in a row would follow in their next game too as Walsall were the visitors to the Completely-Suzuki Stadium.

A volley and half volley from Dan Nlundulu and Liam Sercombe respectively within five first half minutes of each other blew the Saddlers away.

The visitors did pull a goal back deep into the second half through Danny Johnson but it wasn’t enough to stop the Robins continuing their 100% record in the competition.

Sat in the driving seat of Southern Group C, the Robins knew avoiding a two-goal defeat in their final game against West Ham United U21s would be enough to see them qualify for the knockout stages.

And they started off on the right foot, with Brown netting his second goal of the competition just after the 15-minute mark.

But the 1,526 spectators inside Whaddon Road would have to endure a nervy ending as goals from Will Greenidge and Freddie Potts either side of half time gave the young Hammers a 2-1 lead.

Chances for an equaliser came and went for the hosts but crucially, despite defeat on the night, they secured second spot in the group and a place in the knockout stages.

With the second round of the competition still regionalised, the Robins were treated with a trip to their Gloucestershire rivals, Forest Green Rovers.

The night started poorly for the 665 Robins fans who made the trip to Nailsworth as Josh March found a way past Luke Southwood from a first half corner on 24 minutes.

In the second half however, the Robins came out firing on all cylinders and laid siege to the Rovers goal and soon got their deserved rewards with Ryan Broom finding a way past Lewis Thomas.

The game culminated with a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes and the Robins would net all four of their penalties thanks to Sercombe, Elliot Bonds and Brown and Broom.

Already holding the advantage after a miss from Connor Wickham, Southwood was at hand to save March’s penalty to send the Robins through to the Last 16.

Next up was another test against one of the Premier League academy sides, this time Chelsea U21s being the visitors to Cheltenham.

Unlike the meeting with the Hammers, this was a far simpler night’s work for the Elliott and his side as they emerged comfortable 4-0 winners.

Brown opened the scoring early on, but the Robins were made to wait for their last three goals against a young Chelsea, hit by callups to the first team.

Sercombe scored the pivotal second goal in the 87th minute before Broom and Brown completed a fine night under the lights in added time.

Having equalled the club’s run in the 2005/06 season, the Robins were given a second consecutive home tie with League Two Salford City their opponents in the quarter-finals.

The side owned by the ‘Class of 92’ found themselves ahead in the 13th minute thanks to Callum Hendry.

But Broom found himself free in the box and pulled the Robins back level on the stroke of half time, scoring his third in as many matches in the competition.

Sercombe and January signing Will Goodwin scored in the 65th and 66th minute to put the tie beyond the Ammies to earn a semi-final meeting with Plymouth Argyle.

Playing in front of bumper crowd of 12,047 at Home Park, May sent the travelling fans into dreamland early in the second half with a smart finish underneath the goalkeeper.

Having had a goal disallowed in the first half, Argyle hit back 14 minutes later as Ryan Hardie found the top corner with his effort.

This set the stage for another penalty shootout to decide who would earn the right to play under the Wembley arch.

Sercombe and Brown got the Robins off to a good start scoring the first two penalties but none of the final three takers could find a way past Callum Burton, ending the dream of silverware and a spirited EFL Trophy run.

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