All Whites striker Ben Waine is off to Wembley after his Plymouth Argyle team reached the final of the English Football League Trophy with a penalty-shootout semi-final win against Cheltenham.
It will be Argyle’s third-ever trip to the national stadium in the club’s 137-year history, and their first in a cup final.
Waine (21), who joined Argyle from the Wellington Phoenix for an undisclosed transfer fee on January 1, 2023, was an unused substitute for Argyle as they won a tense semi-final against Cheltenham at Plymouth’s Home Park.
The teams were tied 1-1 before Argyle won the penalty shootout 3-2, with ‘keeper Callum Burton saving three of Cheltenham’s spot kicks in a row, prompting a pitch invasion by celebrating home supporters.
Argyle will face Accrington Stanley or Bolton Wanderers in the Wembley final on Monday April 3 (NZT), with the second semi-final to be decided on Thursday February 22 (NZT).
The trophy competition, called the Papa John’s Trophy after its sponsor, is a knockout competition for clubs in England’s League One and Two competitions.
Waine has had two starts and five substitute appearances for Argyle, and scored his first goal for the club in the Papa Johns Trophy 2-0 quarter-final win at Bristol Rovers.
“That was a special moment. I think it definitely helped me settle in quite early on so hopefully I can repeat that at some stage.”
About the prospect of a Wembley appearance, Waine told PlymouthLive’s Chris Errington:
“When I signed, I knew that was a possibility. I feel really privileged to be in a position to join this club and have the chance to play at such a place like Wembley.
“I think to New Zealanders in general, it (Wembley) is not a massive place but I have grown up in an English family, so it has been constantly talked about.
“Even the English boys who come and play over in Wellington, they always talk about it, and if they have played there or not, and what an amazing moment for them and their family it is, so I just really hope to get the chance to experience that as well.”
Competition for places in the starting line-up has been strong but Waine will wait for his opportunity.
“Nobody likes being left out the squad but me and a few other signings were part of that strengthening in January and there was always going to be a time when everyone was fit that someone was going to have to lose your place.
“I’m not the only one. There is a lot of other boys who have been left out a few more squads. You just take it on the chin and support the team, and hopefully your chance comes soon.”
Wembley Stadium hosts England’s biggest football matches, including home games for the national team and the FA Cup Final. The current stadium, opened in 2007 to replace the original stadium on the same site, has a capacity of 90,000.
Photo credit: Wembley Stadium.
Game to be played on Monday April 3 (NZT)
Papa John’s Trophy
Plymouth Argyle v Accrington Stanley or Bolton Wanderers
Wembley Stadium, London