Disappointed to miss out from the start – but Gareth Evans delighted with contribution in Portsmouth’s Checkatrade Trophy glory
Substitute Gareth Evans was delighted with his impact off the bench in Pompey’s Checkatrade Trophy final win over Sunderland.
Yet the Blues midfielder admitted to being disappointed after dropping to the bench for the Wembley showpiece.
Republic of Ireland international Ronan Curtis was selected ahead of the former Bradford man after he recovered from a freak finger injury.
But Evans’ contribution ultimately proved key after replacing the winger on 56 minutes, as Pompey went on to lift the trophy courtesy of a 5-4 win on penalties,
His energy gave the Blues a different dimension as they looked for a way back into the game following Aiden McGeady’s first-half opener.
And it was his delivery to Nathan Thompson at the back post on 82 minutes that created the equaliser which sent the game into 30 minutes of extra-time.
Evans also stepped up and slammed a spot-kick past Black Cats stopper Jon McLaughlin in the shootout, when neither team could wrap up victory in 120 minutes of enthralling football.
The former Fleetwood ace said he had to remain professional after missing out on a starting place.
But he was delighted to be called upon in the second half and contribute towards a famous victory.
Evans said: ‘I was obviously disappointed not to start the game but you’ve just got to be as professional as you can to come on and make an impact.
‘I felt like I did that. I feel like I can keep my chin up because I made a contribution towards winning the cup.
‘It was a fantastic day.
‘It was brilliant to see the turnout from both fans. It just made it such a special occasion and to win it was the icing on the cake.’
The final was played in front of a competition record attendance of 85,021 at the national stadium.
Evans revealed is was a surreal experience to play in front of such a large crowd for an Checkatrade Trophy fixture.
He added: ‘Just walking out of the tunnel and looking around you couldn’t believe it was two League One teams, to be honest.
‘It’s a bit false that we are both in League One, both teams are both Championship - if not Premier League - clubs. That showed with the support that came out.
‘Both sets of supporters have been through hard times recently so it was nice for them to have a day out.
‘But to win it for the Portsmouth fans made it a pretty magical day.’