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Monday 03 Apr 2023
WATCH | Dion Charles nets in Wembley final

Northern Ireland striker Dion Charles scored his 19th goal of the season as he helped Bolton Wanderers lift the Papa John's Trophy at Wembley following an emphatic 4-0 victory over fellow League One side Plymouth Argyle on Sunday.

Charles, who started the game alongside fellow Northern Ireland players Conor Bradley and Eoin Toal, finished off a sweeping move to give the Trotters a 2-0 advantage after just 10 minutes.

After the game the 27-year-old admitted that scoring at Wembley was a dream come true considering he was plying his trade in non-league football just four years ago.

“Scoring at Wembley is something you dream about as a kid,” Charles said. “But I just went a bit numb after scoring, I didn’t really know what to do. All the lads went into the corner and just started jumping on me.

“With the goals I scored for Northern Ireland in San Marino this is all just a pinch me moment to see where I have come from in a short space of time.

“It is brilliant and means absolutely everything to me,” he added. “I have come the long, hard way to get to where I am today, through hard work and dedication.”

Also on the scoresheet over the weekend was Northern Ireland newcomer Sean Goss (above) who scored a stunning free-kick in Motherwell’s 3-1 success at Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership.

Speaking to irishfa.com he said he was relieved to have finally opened his account for the season: “Yeah it was a big relief personally, as I’ve being getting a bit of stick from the lads.

“I’ve been playing a different role this season just in front of the back four, which I feel has helped the team progress up the pitch - so the one time in a blue moon I get up there I have to make every use of it to try and get my goals!”

Meanwhile, in the EFL Championship, Trai Hume played in Sunderland’s scoreless draw at Burnley on Friday night but Dan Ballard missed the game after picking up a hamstring injury in Northern Ireland’s defeat to Finland.

Elsewhere Craig Cathcart, Shane Ferguson, Paddy McNair and George Saville all started for their respective clubs while Jordan Thompson and Conor Washington also got some game time after being used from the bench.

In EFL League One Luke Southwood kept his 15th clean sheet of the season as Cheltenham Town were held to a goalless draw by Burton Albion who had Dale Taylor spearheading their attack.

Back in Scotland, Kilmarnock named Jordan Jones, Liam Donnelly and Kyle Vassell in their starting XI as they recorded a 2-1 home victory over Hearts who had 34-year-old Michael Smith in their line-up.

Goalkeeper Jackie Burns was missing through injury from the Reading squad which lost 2-1 at Leicester City in the Women’s Super League though striker Lauren Wade did manage to get a few minutes as a substitute. 

In the Women’s Championship Rachel Furness (above), who returns to the Northern Ireland Women’s squad for this week’s international against Wales, played just over an hour of Bristol City’s home defeat to Sheffield United and Ellie Mason and Rebecca McKenna also started Lewes' draw at home to Coventry United.

Finally, after hitting three goals for Gerard Lyttle’s U19 side last week, Callum Marshall continued to add to his goal tally for West Ham United’s youth team, scoring his 19th of the season for them in their 4-3 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.