Coventry City skipper Jordan Willis on their Checkatrade Trophy bid
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.”
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.
OH YES! Coventry celebrate winning the shoot-out against Swansea
SKY BLUE LEADER: Coventry captain Jordan Willis