Richie Wellens targets promotion after Salford upset Portsmouth at Wembley

Portsmouth v Salford City – Papa John’s Trophy – Final 2020 – Wembley Stadium (PA Wire)
18:40pm, Sat 13 Mar 2021
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Salford boss Richie Wellens is keen to use Saturday’s Papa John’s Trophy final win over Portsmouth as a “springboard” for promotion to Sky Bet League One.

The Ammies lifted their first piece of major silverware with a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win, having dominated the goalless draw beforehand as the delayed 2020 final went the way of the lower league side.

Portsmouth went into the game on a run of three successive defeats and Kenny Jackett’s side were outplayed for large portions of the match, relying heavily on a string of fine saves from Craig MacGillivray to keep them in the contest.

But Salford would score all four of their penalties as Ryan Williams fired over and Vaclav Hladky saved Ronan Curtis’ spot-kick.

Salford sit ninth in League Two and Wellens – who cleared up his pre-match comments about the final being a “hinderance” for his side – now wants the taste of the winners’ champagne to act as a catalyst for the remainder of the season.

“I spoke before about this game being a hindrance, it can get misinterpreted,” he said.

“It was the timing of the game but it may have been a godsend because we are hoping to see it as a springboard now.

“The players now should take a hell of a lot of confidence and we should use the momentum for Colchester on Tuesday, we don’t want a Lord Mayor’s show, and then kick on for the remainder of the season.”

Taking place 342 days after the original date for the tie due to the coronavirus pandemic, both sides had to wait a further 120 minutes to decide who would be victorious, with League One Pompey falling to their rivals from the fourth tier.

Salford may have secured a first piece of major silverware – but they will only have their hands on the trophy until they depart Wembley, leaving with a replica as the original is sanitised and prepared for either Tranmere or Sunderland – who meet in Sunday’s 2021 final.

Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett was taking charge of an unparalleled third EFL trophy final but came into the game under pressure following a poor run of form which has seen the south coast side slide out of the promotion picture for the time being.

The experienced manager was unhappy with Pompey’s start to the game but felt the 2019 winners grew into the match.

“Salford had the first half and then I thought from half-time on we showed more intent and created more chances and were generally on top in the game,” he said.

“Going into the penalty shoot-out and missing the first two has made it such a mountain to climb after that.

“The only thing we can take out of the first half is that it was 0-0, we needed to improve and I’m pleased to say we did improve.

“Salford had the first half and then I thought from half-time on we showed more intent and created more chances and were generally on top in the game.”

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