FOR everyone associated with Southampton Football Club, this is a moment that should be savoured.
Saints will make their first Wembley appearance in 18 years, after beating MK Dons to reach the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final.
Opportunities to win silverware for teams like Saints are all too rare, so this is something that must be treasured.
For the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, Wembley is pretty much a second home.
But for sides in the bracket of Saints, playing there sometimes seems like nothing more than a distant fantasy.
After years of decline, pretty much since the club’s last major final – the 2003 FA Cup in Cardiff – any kind of tangible success started to feel really out of reach.
But there is some belief back now and you can sense they are slowly starting to edge back up the English football chain.
Reaching the JPT final is a wonderful little landmark along the way.
Forget about what anyone thinks of the competition itself, reaching a Wembley final is no mean feat.
Admittedly, nobody really wants any part of the JPT if they are honest.
League One is not where Saints want to be. But for this year, and probably at least one more, that is the case.
So why not make the best of it while you are there?
That is the attitude Alan Pardew has taken and his team has followed suit.
Now they are just 90 minutes away from lifting a piece of silverware – the last significant one hoisted above a Saints’ player’s head was in 1976.
So, although it might not mean much to many in the football world, it will to Saints if they can win it.
There are a lot of people associated with the club who fully deserve their day out at Wembley.
The staff that remain from such a miserable few months, when administration threatened their livelihoods, deserve something to smile about.
Loyal servants such as Kelvin Davis, who turned his back on the Premier League to stay at St Mary’s, also deserve their showpiece day. And the fans, who
have endured many a difficult year recently, certainly do too.
Reaching the JPT final isn’t going to satisfy anyone longterm, but it is a great bit of payback for the torrid times the club has been through prior to this season.
It’s something for people to enjoy – a day out that can be cherished for years to come.
Hopefully, it will result in a victory and, with Carlisle the opponents, Saints will certainly be favoured.
But, whatever happens on March 28, this is something we should all just savour.
Saints certainly warrant their place in the final and they have had to beat some strong teams along the way.
Other than the quarter-final against Norwich, Saints have been the better side in every round.
And, against a disappointing MK Dons outfit, they were by far superior.
The tie could have been put to bed after a dominant first leg display at stadium:mk.
But the 1-0 lead Saints held from that match gave them a fantastic platform.
And they did not let that stranglehold go last night.
Other than one shambolic defensive moment, Saints were strong, incisive and ruthless.
It would have been reasonable to expect a fast start from the visitors. But it was Pardew’s men who instead imposed their authority from the start.
The lively Papa Waigo created the first threatening moment, tricking his way into the box, before his ball across the face was deflected behind by Dean Lewington.
But it didn’t take long for Saints to extend their aggregate lead.
Rickie Lambert had looked superb in the early stages and he made no mistake in the 15th minute, as a clever move created space for him in the box.
His finish was clinical, stroking the ball with his right foot across Willy Gueret in the Dons goal and into the far bottom corner.
Chants of "We're going to Wembley" filled the air and they got even louder when Saints deservedly doubled the lead in the 31st minute.
It was a calamity moment, as a clearance out of the Dons defence, after Michail Antonio's effort, smashed against Dan Woodards'
head and cannoned into the goal.
The visitors grabbed a lifeline just before the break, as three Saints players tried to head the same ball in their own box, only to nod it straight to Mark Randall to prod home.
The second half featured little goalmouth action, although Wayne Thomas blazed over from close range in the 56th minute.
But the tie was emphatically sealed three minutes from time, as Gueret couldn't keep out Lambert’s near post free-kick and Adam Lallana slammed home the