SAINTS teammates Jack Stephens and Che Adams were on opposite sides of an all-timer playoff semi-final nearly a decade ago.

A 21 year old Stephens, on a second loan from Saints at Swindon Town, had returned to the County Ground for the 2014/15 season.

Adams, meanwhile, was an 18 year old wide forward trying to make his name at the top end of League One with Sheffield United.

Swindon and the Blades finished fourth and fifth respectively, behind champions Bristol City, MK Dons and playoff favourites Preston. 

Stephens and Swindon ran out winners 7-6 on aggregate - following a mental 5-5 draw in the second leg in Wiltshire. 

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Stephens insisted: "I have learned from that massively. 

Daily Echo: Jack Stephens made 52 appearances for Swindon Town across two spellsJack Stephens made 52 appearances for Swindon Town across two spells (Image: PA)

"I was young at the time. It was my first experience of play-offs and it was a crazy time. We won 2-1 away so it was a difficult mindset.

"How do you approach the second leg? Do you go and win? Do you soak it up? I think we were 3-0 up after 20 minutes and then you think it's done and dusted."

It was far from done. Adams was substituted on in the 87th minute with Sheffield United 5-3 down on the day and 7-4 down on aggregate.

Three minutes later, the youngster added to a Matt Done strike with his career-first league goal in added time to make it 5-5. 

"I think he came on and scored with his second touch," Stephens recalled, laughing as he remembered. 

"The replay of the game is always shown on Sky so we speak about it quite a bit, he will text me to say it was on again last night.

"It was a good experience but I've come a long way since that. Hopefully, I can use that experience to help the lads who haven't been through that.

Daily Echo: Che Adams had scored goals for Sheffield United in the League Cup previouslyChe Adams had scored goals for Sheffield United in the League Cup previously (Image: PA)

"We ended just scraping through. It was a crazy night and I learned a lot from those experiences. That game and the final."

Swindon and Stephens went on to be beaten 4-0 by a Jermaine Beckford hattrick-inspired Preston at Wembley Stadium.

Stephens had only missed one league game since September and played every minute of the playoffs campaign. 

He added: "Being such a young player, and we had a young group as well I think, it was just a massive learning curve for us.

"Hopefully, I can bring that experience and have a different result this time. In a way, it reminds me of the league we've had this year.

"There were three or four really good sides going for the top two positions. We missed out similar to what we've done this year.

"Unfortunately that time we weren't quite good enough in the final. Like I say, this time I will try to help us get a different result." 

The motivation could not be any clearer for Saints and captain Stephens now. They are three games away from the Premier League. 

Daily Echo: Saints captain Jack Stephens looks set to start for Russell Martin in the playoffsSaints captain Jack Stephens looks set to start for Russell Martin in the playoffs (Image: Stuart Martin)

Stephens could lead his side out at the home of English football on Sunday, May 26, if they can find a way past West Brom in the semi-final. 

"When I was given the captaincy I was dreaming of leading the team out of this division," Stephens insisted. 

"There were two ways of doing that, automatics or playoffs. We've got this second chance in the playoffs and we've got a job to do in the semi-finals.

"I am very excited and very proud to be able to do that at this football club. I'm really looking forward to it."