IF Millwall need any extra motivation there should be a couple of driving forces when they meet Southend in the first round of the FA Cup on Friday evening.
While Neil Harris wouldn’t ever publicly say it, he would hope the memory of the 3-1 defeat to the Shrimpers in September (above) is still fresh in his players’ minds.
Fred Onyedinma alluded to that defeat being the first in a run of four successive league losses and the message was clear: Millwall are out to avenge it.
That damaging result against his hometown club should ensure there is a little more edge in Harris’ team-talk before the more novel kick-off time of 7.45pm at the beginning of the weekend.
Harris was also the caretaker manager, along with current academy boss Scott Fitzgerald, when the club’s clashed in the FA Cup in January 2014. After the departure of Steve Lomas, Harris took his Millwall side to then-League Two Southend on the back of five games without a win.
Current players Steve Morison and Jimmy Abdou were in the starting XI, with Onyedinma coming on as a substitute for his first appearance for the club, as Southend thumped Championship Millwall 4-1.
Ian Holloway was appointed full-time manager that week, but Harris was back in the Lions hot seat 14 months later and in four meetings with Southend since then Millwall have won two and lost two.
Both sides should approach this tie with confidence. Millwall have won four of their last five games, while Southend have lost only one in eight.
Lions player Shane Ferguson admitted it was difficult to hear criticism when the side’s from plummeted in September.
“You learn a lot from your losses,” he said. “We looked back on all of those game and it obviously hurts when you hear stuff from the fans. But we always try our best to put it right and you can see it’s a better mood in the camp. Everyone’s a lot happier and we’re doing the right things now."
Harris will have to decide whether to stick to a winning formula, or whether to give Shaun Hutchinson his full debut after the centre-back proved his fitness in a number of U23 games.
Former Southend winger David Worrall will be eager to face his former side, while Harris also has the option of starting Calum Butcher and Jimmy Abdou. Ferguson heads away on international duty with Northern Ireland after the fixture and will miss the games against Luton and Bristol Rovers.
Southend boss Phil Brown can call on Michael Timlin for the first time this season after the midfielder recovered from a hamstring injury.
Lambeth-born Timlin is a Millwall fan and lives five minutes from The Den.
"We have to go into the game full of confidence because we feel like we've turned the corner,” Timlin said.
"But there's no point thinking too far ahead, we need to go game by game.
"Even though it's a cup game, we'll be going back there in the league later in the season, so it's two teams playing for reputation.
"What we want is to go on a cup run like we did when we ended up playing Hull a couple of seasons back."
Meanwhile, Brown also revealed he won’t play an understrength side and expects a big following at The Den.
“The chairman has already put the pressure on me ahead of this game by reminding me how important it would be to have a cup run and of course I want one too, so I’ll be fielding a strong side,” he said.
“It’s a game we’re looking forward to as well as Millwall isn’t too far away so I can see us taking quite a few fans.
“It should make for a good atmosphere and we want to be able to reward our fans with a good performance and result.”
Millwall record against Southend:
Won 37 Drawn 22 Lost 27
Probable Millwall team:
Millwall: 4-4-2: Archer; Romeo, Webster, Craig, Ferguson; Onyedinma, Thompson, Williams, O’Brien; Gregory, Morison.
Millwall 7/10 Draw 29/10 Southend 18/5
Image source: ©Millwall FC