Three remarkable penalty saves in succession from Callum Burton booked Plymouth Argyle a place at Wembley in the Papa Johns Trophy Final after a dramatic shoot-out at Home Park.

The penalties were a traditional rollercoaster but Burton was brilliant, somehow digging out a hat-trick of saves to give the Green Army a dream trip to the home of English football

Before the shoot-out saga, Cheltenham had grabbed a lead against the run of play when Alfie May fizzed a low drive into the corner early in the second half, but Ryan Hardie levelled with a magnificent finish justpast the hour.

Argyle manager Steven Schumacher made six changes from the weekend draw with Fleetwood, with James Bolton and Brendon Galloway returning to the starting line-up after long absences through injury.

Exactly a month after beating the Robins 4-2 in Sky Bet League One, Argyle created the first opening with a superb whipped cross by Mickel Miller, hastily cleared at the near post. Miller then picked up on a deft pass inside from Danny Mayor but the right-foot shot was off target.

Terrific pressing from Jordan Houghton almost released the lively Miller for another opportunity on 14 minutes, as the Pilgrims continued to dominate the territorial stats, although they survived a big scare when May broke into the left channel but opted for a pass, which was mis-placed, when a shot seemed the better option.

A lovely pass from Houghton into the feet of Finn Azaz was matched by a delicious lay-off by the man on loan from Aston Villa but the first touch of Niall Ennis was fractionally too heavy, allowing Cheltenham to scramble clear.

Azaz was growing in influence, dancing into the box for goal-bound prod that was turned around the post by Luke Southwood. Argyle thought they had scored from the resulting corner, Mayor glancing the ball into the net but Matt Butcher was a fraction offside and clearly in Southwood’s eyeline.

Argyle’s next opening came from a Butcher corner that bobbled around before Houghton stabbed it toward the corner and Southwood was alert enough to palm clear. The final save of a fine half from Southwood was his best, standing strong to repel a thundering strike by Miller from 12 yards.  

After controlling the game for long periods, the Greens fell behind early in the second period. Cheltenham won the ball in a dangerous area and Aidan Keena slipped the ball into the path of May for an emphatic lowfinish back across Burton.

Argyle swiftly called for reinforcements, Hardie, Macaulay Gillesphey and Callum Wright entering the fray in place of Ennis, Galloway and Miller. Gillesphey soon clipped a ball in the channel for Hardie and the challenge from Charlie Raglan was certainly untidy, but ‘no penalty’ was the decision.

No matter, Hardie levelled from the next attack with a wonderful goal. Wright floated a lovely pass for the number nine on the far left of the penalty area and his chip over a rooted Southwood was simplysublime.

Jay Matete for Butcher was the next Argyle switch from the bench, as the game approached a period where the prospect of penalties began to fill the air. A fine block from Gillesphey on Keena ensured parityremained.

In general, however, the Robins were happy to set up camp in their own half and hit Argyle on the break when opportunities allowed. Sam Cosgrove was the man tasked with changing the story in the final ten minutes, replacing Mayor.

The new man soon caused mayhem and the ball was in the net again after Hardie challenged Southwood from a looping Joe Edwards cross but offside was the correct decision.

Six minutes of stoppage time represented a final chance to avoid the drama of penalties and Cosgrove so nearly delivered, exchanging passes with Azaz before a sweetly-struck left-foot curler thatcannoned back off the post.

A trip to Wembley would be decided by the lottery of penalties.

The game will take place on Sunday April 2 against the winners of tonight's clash between Accrington Stanley and Bolton Wanderers.