WEM­B­LEY DREAM

Coven­try City skip­per Jor­dan Wil­lis on their Check­a­trade Tro­phy bid

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By John Lyons

CAP­TAIN Jor­dan Wil­lis ad­mits it would be a ‘dream come true’ to lead Coven­try City out at Wem­b­ley in a cup fi­nal – and now they’re just one step away from mak­ing it a re­al­ity.

The Sky Blues knocked out Swansea City U21s – the last acad­emy side left in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy – 4-2 on penal­ties af­ter a 1-1 draw at the Lib­erty Sta­dium in mid­week.

Oli McBurnie had given the Swans the lead from the penalty spot with 20 min­utes left, but Coven­try lev­elled late on via an own goal, with an as­sist from Wil­lis.

In the shoot-out, Sky Blues keeper Re­ice Charles-Cook proved the hero, sav­ing two spot­kicks, be­fore Ruben Lameiras scored the win­ner.

It has been doom and gloom for Coven­try in the league this sea­son – they’re bot­tom of the League One – but the Tro­phy, much de­rided in some quar­ters, has pro­vided a ray of sun­shine. In a change from pre­vi­ous sea­sons, the semi-fi­nal is just a one-leg af­fair, and Coven­try have been handed a home tie against League Two pro­mo­tion-chasers Wy­combe Wanderers. It’s a great chance for the Sky Blues to reach Wem­b­ley, 30 years on from whey they had their finest hour – beat­ing Tot­ten­ham 3-2 in an FA Cup fi­nal thriller in 1987. Skip­per Wil­lis, just 22, said: “It was a great feel­ing to beat Swansea, es­pe­cially com­ing from a goal down and then to win it on penal­ties, which is nerve-wrack­ing. “We are re­ally happy to have a home semi­fi­nal. Hope­fully we can get a full sta­dium and a great at­mos­phere. “For my­self be­ing a Cov kid, to lead the team out at Wem­b­ley would be a dream come true and it would be mas­sive for the club. “Oggy (goal­keep­ing coach Steve Ogri­zovic) still brings up the FA Cup fi­nal from time to time and to go back on the 30-year an­niver­sary would be amaz­ing.”

Ahead of Fe­bru­ary’s semi-fi­nal date, Rus­sell Slade’s men need to fo­cus 100 per cent on the league. Pre-week­end, they were seven points from safety. Wil­lis is hop­ing the Check­a­trade Tro­phy suc­cess will help.

The highly-rated de­fender, who has al­ready made more than 100 ap­pear­ances for the Sky Blues, said: “We do need to start tak­ing our Tro­phy form into the league – it’s given us a lift.”

Mas­ter­stroke

Wy­combe came from be­hind to beat Steve Evans’ Mans­field and book their last four place. Matt Green put the Stags in front with a 34th minute penalty in the al­lLeague Two clash.

How­ever, Wy­combe boss Gareth Ainsworth threw on strik­ers Scott Kashket and Ade­bayo Ak­in­fenwa mid­way through the sec­ond half – and it proved a mas­ter­stroke.

The in-form Kashket notched a 73rd minute lev­eller be­fore the ex­pe­ri­enced Ak­in­fenwa fired home an 81st minute win­ner.

The vic­tory ex­tended the Chair­boys’ un­beaten run to 16 games in all com­pe­ti­tions.

How­ever, Coven­try have al­ready beaten Wy­combe in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy this term, tri­umph­ing 4-2 in a South­ern Group D match.

Ryan Haynes scored twice as the Sky Blues roared back from 2-0 down to earn vic­tory at Adams Park and top the group, with the Chair­boys hav­ing to set­tle for sec­ond place.

Wil­lis added: “We have a win over them al­ready which is a pos­i­tive for us – hope­fully we can do the dou­ble.”

Mean­while, the other semi-fi­nal is up in the air af­ter the two other quar­ter-fi­nals fell victim to the weather in mid­week.

Lu­ton’s tie against Yeovil and Ox­ford’s clash with Brad­ford were both post­poned, the lat­ter just 20 min­utes be­fore kick-off due to a frozen pitch.

Last year’s beaten fi­nal­ists Ox­ford and the Ban­tams will try again on Tues­day night, while Lu­ton v Yeovil has been pen­cilled in for the fol­low­ing Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 7.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

OH YES! Coven­try cel­e­brate win­ning the shoot-out against Swansea

SKY BLUE LEADER: Coven­try cap­tain Jor­dan Wil­lis

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