HARTLEPOOL United produced a perfect set of penalties to reach the Papa John’s Trophy semi-finals when Charlton Athletic were beaten 5-4 on spot-kicks.
Mark Cullen, Tom Crawford, Mark Shelton, Luke Molyneux and Jamie Sterry were flawless from 12 yards and with Ben Killip saving Charlton’s fourth attempt from Elliot Lee, Pools remained on Wembley way.
Victory for Pools on spot kicks was fully deserved for an excellent performance over 90 minutes against the League One team at the Suit Direct Stadium.
It was a pulsating cup tie, with Joe Grey giving Graeme Lee’s side a seventh-minute lead before the Addicks went ahead with first-half goals by Mason Burstow and Alex Gilbey.
Pools were superb going forward and it was no surprise they found a leveller through sub Molyneux’s belter 18 minutes from time.
Cup specialist Grey gave much-changed Pools a dream start with a seventh-minute goal.
The teenager, who scored the FA Cup winner over Blackpool earlier this month, got on the end of Martin Smith’s ball forward and finished superbly with a lofted shot from the edge of the area.
Alas, the lead lasted only 10 minutes.
Ben Killip came out to intercept a through ball and didn’t make it. He did well to make it back between the sticks and pull off a brilliant save from Burstow, but the rebound fell kindly to the striker who headed home.
Pools were not just holding their own against the League One side, they were having the best of the play.
Smith had a shot saved by Craig Macgillivray after a nice move, before the keeper then spilled a long-range crack from Mark Shelton which Akin Famewo scrambled clear before Mark Cullen could pounce.
Zaine Francis Angol and Luke Hendrie fired over in a bright spell, so it came against the run of play that the Addiclks went in front on 32 minutes.
Jonathan Leko’s cross was met by Ben Purrington who put it in the path of Gilbey whose finish was excellent.
The remainder of the half was all Pools with Tom Crawford curling one wide, Grey having an effort beaten away by Macgillivray and Olomola just off target.
Right at the end of the period, Macgillivray produced a great block to deny Grey who had battled his way through on goal.
Pools were just as attack-minded in the second half with the front three of Cullen, Grey and Olomola all bright, Fela doing to drive in a low cross which evaded all blue and white men.
Olomola looked to have played Grey through on 65 minutes but Purrington tracked the forward and made a timely interception.
Lee brought on Molyneux 20 minutes from time and what an inspired substitution it was.
First, he found Cullen who made room for a left-foot shot which Macgillivray somehow clawed out of his top-right corner.
His next contribution was breathtaking. Receiving the ball outside the area he cut infield and unleashed a left-foot thunderbolt which gave Macgillivray no chance.
Pools had one last crack in stoppage time but Shelton was too high while Charlton had a final assault with seconds remaining but were penalised for handball, bringing it to penalties,
Pools: Killip; Sterry, Hendrie, Odusina;, Angol; Crawford, Smith, Shelton, Grey, Culllen, Olomola (Molyneux 70)
Subs: Boyes, Byrne, Ogle, Liddle, Ferguson, Featherstone
Goal: Grey 7, Molyneux 73
Charlton: Macgillivray; Matthews, Famewo, Pearce, Purrington (Castillo 88); Watson (Clare 80); Leko (Taylor 70), Gilbey, Morgan Lee 80); Washington, Burstow (Aneke 70).
Subs (not used): Henderson, Inniss
Goal: Burstow 17, Gilbey 32
Booked: Purrington 51, Famewo 85
Referee: Sam Barrott
Att: 3,615 (away 235)