Barnsley boss Lee Johnson thought his side were good value for their victory at Wigan that takes them into the northern area final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
The Tykes twice led at the DW Stadium only to be pegged back, with the game eventually going to a penalty shoot-out.
And with ex-Barnsley men Craig Davies and David Perkins missing for the hosts, it allowed skipper Alfie Mawson to send Barnsley through.
"I thought we deserved to win," said Johnson, whose side are rock bottom of League One. "We worked really hard, we hustled well and we were a constant threat.
"We created some good chances, we had a lot of corners and attacks, and I thought we defended quite well.
"On the balance of play we were good value for the win and it was disappointing we had to go to penalties.
"Then it becomes a lottery and you're looking to your players to dig in.
"But I thought the spirit we showed, and the way the fans got behind us, made it a great day for us."
Talk of Wembley has raised spirits at a club that has been battling at the wrong end of the league table for much of the season.
"The two final legs are not until January, but hopefully we can get the town talking about that now," added Johnson.
"It's back to the important league games again next week, and I'll be seeking a similar performance to this at Colchester.
"We are bottom of the league, but we are much better than that as we've proved here.
"I've said all along that we are strong enough to go on a run to get us out of trouble."
Wigan boss Gary Caldwell could not hide his disappointment at seeing a gilt-edged opportunity to reach another Wembley final slip away.
"It's a massive disappointment, and I've told that to the players," he said. "You don't get the opportunity to win cups or to play at Wembley too often in your career.
"We've let it pass us by, and we got what we deserved. I didn't think we deserved to win the game."
Aside from their two goals, courtesy of Will Grigg, Wigan did not do enough in the game and, if anything, the Tykes looked more likely to add to their goals from Adam Hammill and Ivan Toney.
"We worked hard in the week on controlling a game, and possession, and passing," added Caldwell. "And again that was poor on the day.
"You can't give the ball away as cheaply as we did and expect to do well in a game.
"The passing options were there, we're just not seeing them early enough or playing them with enough quality.
"We're putting ourselves under a lot of pressure as a result.
"We've worked on passing the ball forward, making teams defend, and still we invite too much pressure.
"To be fair to Barnsley, they worked hard, they raised their game as we knew they would, as every team does here. We need to be better than that."
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