Alan Pardew says Saints’ Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win allows him to look Nicola Coreste in the eye and insist that his two-year challenge to get the team promoted to the Championship is very much on.

There has been a lot of speculation over Pardew’s relationship with Cortese after the executive chairman released a statement to say the priority this season is to reach play-offs, even given a minus ten start, with the cups merely a nice bonus.

When asked whether he felt the 4-1 win over Carlisle at Wembley would buy him more time in the job Pardew said: “I don’t think it’s about buying time, I really haven’t thought about that.

“There’s been a lot of speculation about what the acting chief executive has said and some of the pressure he’s put on us and I have to accept that.

“It was important we won this so I can look him in the eye and say ‘we’ve won this."

For full story and more Saints news, don't miss the 24-page Saints at Wembley pull-out in tomorrow's Daily Echo.