The Johnstone's Paint Trophy reaches the regional final stage this week as Barnet take on Swindon Town in the first leg of the Southern Section Final. The final at Wembley will see one of the two League 2 sides taking on League 1 opposition -Chesterfield and Oldham Athletic meet in their first leg next week to play for the other place - and for Barnet Manager Lawrie Sanchez it is a chance to revisit Wembley, a place that holds special memories.
52-year-old Sanchez famously headed home the winner for Wimbledon against Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final, perhaps the ultimate FA Cup giant killing, and told www.barnetfc.com that the memory of playing at Wembley never leaves you, whatever the competition:
"Playing there or watching your team in action are magical experiences and I would very much like to return.
"The experience is one that stays with you throughout your lifetime and while glamour and glory are a bit thin on the ground in League 2 here is a real chance to make a name for yourself."
Sanchez was in the crowd to see tonight's opponents pull off their own FA Cup shock at the weekend as Swindon knocked out Wigan Athletic of the Premier League, leaving the former Northern Ireland Manager in no doubt about the size of the task facing his side:
"I have no doubt that they are the bookmakers' odds-on favourite but I know that if we perform to the level we have shown when we have faced teams from higher divisions this season we can keep the tie alive."
Barnet have won Cup games against Portsmouth and Colchester United this season and will have 19-goal Izale McLeod leading their line in front of their biggest crowd of the season. McLeod has committed himself to Barnet for the rest of the season despite transfer speculation linking him with a move away.
Swindon, who won 4-0 at the County Ground when the teams met in the League earlier in the season, will not let their standards drop after their FA Cup win, with manager Paolo Di Canio demanding that his side show the same hunger and desire if they want to get to Wembley.
"It is not easy. At the top level people have good habits because it is normal for them to play every three days in the most important games and the most important competitions. For us we want to become a winning team and at our level we want to think exactly the same. I have a group of young players and day after day they improve and they all know this is a massive game," he told Robins Player.
"After Wigan I didn't say too much about Barnet, only to relax and to recover their energy, then the next day I showed them how much Barnet have changed because their defensive line is completely different to when they lost at the County Ground. I don't look at Barnet too much, it is all about how we can focus our attention on the next game every time.
"It is not a league game. It is one of the two finals that can give us the opportunity to go to Wembley so I hope that they keep their attention very high and I hope they play very intelligently and very professionally. They know this and I hope they are ready and we can have another really good performance. The guys look relaxed but not in a negative way and I know they will go and fight and challenge all around the field. In football you can burn your good moments in an instant. If you want to become a very good side you have to keep going and win more games."
The Northern Final takes place next Tuesday evening and sees Chesterfield take on Oldham Athletic.
The second legs will be Oldham Athletic versus Chesterfield on Monday 30th January 2012, kick-off 7.45pm and Swindon Town versus Barnet on Tuesday 7th February 2012, kick-off 7.45pm. Should Swindon Town be involved in an FA Cup Round 4th Round replay, this will take precedence and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy Area Final will revert to week commencing 20th February - exact date TBC.