NEIL Harris said October's Sky Bet League One player of the month Aiden O’Brien was the difference as Millwall eventually overcame the challenge of non-league AFC Fylde to advance to the second round of the FA Cup.
O’Brien came on at half-time for the ineffectual Paris Cowan-Hall to inspire the Lions to a 3-1 win.
The 22-year-old put Millwall ahead in the 54th minute before providing the assist for Steve Morison who made the game safe two minutes from time with his sixth goal of the season.
Harris admitted his side were sluggish until O’Brien’s introduction, but the Millwall manager also praised the opponents for making it a difficult afternoon.
“I’m delighted to get through,” Harris said. “I’m delighted with the boys because it’s about winning, cup football. You have to be respectful to the opposition, whatever the level, and for the record I thought they were fantastic.
“They were a credit to the club and the league and they made it really difficult for us. I was delighted with some of our play but disappointed not to get a clean sheet.
“I knew it was going to be difficult, I’ve seen them and know how good they are and how difficult they would make it for us.
“We didn’t have a spark all today, we weren’t proactive enough.
“But when you can bring the best player in the league for the last month on it makes a big difference.”
Harris said his players should have made it much more comfortable for themselves after going two goals up in six second-half minutes, but Alex Whittle took advantage of some sloppiness in defence to briefly give Fylde hope of snatching a result.
“We prepared the players well for it,” Harris stressed. “But I’ve played in those type of games and they’re difficult until you get the first goal, and then we got a second one pretty quickly, but you have to be professional after that and we gave a poor goal away.
“It was a poor goal down our right-hand side and I was really disappointed with it. We could have made it a lot easier for ourselves. At 2-0 we should have been comfortable.”
After making it a third game unbeaten in cup competitions this season, Millwall now look forward to another knock-out clash on Tuesday against Plymouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
And Harris was eager to quickly turn the focus towards that challenge.
He said: “You could see in my team selection what the competition means to me. We want to win every game and the most important game of the season for us now is the next one against Plymouth on Tuesday night.”