Having successfully navigated their way out of Group H (Southern) thanks to wins against Oxford United and Tottenham Hotspur U21’s, the U’s were rewarded with the home tie against Walsall in the Second Round.
Despite having to thank ‘keeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle for keeping the U’s in the game on several occasions – which later saw the Guyana international win Round Two ‘Player of the Round’ –
goals from Sam Smith and Shilow Tracey either side of the half-time whistle were enough to see the U’s through to the Round of 16, where they would welcome Portsmouth to the Abbey Stadium.
Harvey Knibbs made it two accolades from two EFL Trophy knockout games when the Aston Villa academy graduate was presented with the Round of 16 ‘Player of the Round’ award following the forwards brace against Portsmouth at the start of January, setting Mark Bonner’s U’s up with a Quarter-Final tie against Rotherham.
Three wins in Rotherham’s three group games, scoring 15 and only conceding just a single goal in the process saw Paul Warne’s side ease through Group E (Northern).
The story could have so nearly been different for the South Yorkshire side, had it of not been for the penalty heroics of Viktor Johansson against Port Vale in the Second Round.
Having seen the game finish all square at 1-1 after ninety minutes, the game was to be settled from the spot, with the Millers eventually running out 5-3 winners on the night.
Rotherham did manage to make easier work of it in the Round of 16, however, with Sadlier, Smith, Kayode and Ladapo all scoring in a 4-2 win over League One counterparts Crewe Alexandra at the start of January.
Rotherham will come as no strangers to the U’s, with both sides only clashing a month ago. Despite the U’s being well in the game mid-way through the second half,
the Miller’s quality eventually shone through, with Daniel Barlaser excellently slotting home from the edge of the U’s area in the 66th minute