FA Cup preview: Millwall vs. AFC Fylde

© AFC Fylde
© AFC Fylde

NEIL Harris is warning his players they need to be “fully focused” to avoid a shock result in the FA Cup first round this weekend against AFC Fylde.

The Lancashire club are currently top of the National League North and defeated Stalybridge Celtic 5-0 last weekend to extend their winning run to nine games.

With 31 goals scored during that period, Dave Challinor’s side will also present a threat to a Millwall defence that will be without captain Tony Craig.

Harris could restore Byron Webster to the side in Craig’s absence, but has other options in the centre of his defence.

“It’s always a blow to see your captain go off, but Byron has been brilliant for me,” Harris said.  "We’ve also got Shaun Williams, Joe Martin and Shaun Cummings who can play centre-half so we’ve got plenty of players who can play in that position.”

Fylde will have Sam Finley back from suspension and Josh Langley is included after recovering from a fractured metatarsal.

The Coasters are an ambitious club and are well ahead of schedule to be in the Football League by 2022, a target chairman David Haythornthwaite set in 2007.

Fylde hope to move to a new 6,000-capacity stadium next year as they chase their goal, and Harris stressed his players won’t be taking the challenge lightly this weekend.

He said: “They are difficult games. We’re very respectful of the opposition – they’re top of the league for a reason. Any team that’s flying high in the National League North or South could easily compete in the top 10 in the National League.

“And we’ve seen year in, year out, teams who come out of that division are competitive in League Two. There’s not a great deal between leagues. We’re respectful of them because they’ve got some really good young players and they’ve scored a lot of goals this season.

“Nothing changes for my players. They have to be mentally right and fully focused on the job at hand to come out winners.”

Harris is hoping to have Sid Nelson available this weekend or for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash with Plymouth on Tuesday night.

George Saville and Shane Ferguson will sit out the fixture as they have not been given permission to play by Wolves and Newcastle, respectively.

But Harris has the option of handing winger Paris Cowan-Hall his first start of the season.

The other decisions to be made concern the captaincy, with Lions chairman John Berylson hinting that striker Steve Morison could be given the armband, and whether to give David Forde a start (though that would cup-tie the player) for the first time since August 18.

Others such as Jack Powell and Alfie Pavey who are on the fringes of the first team could also figure in Harris’ thinking.

Meanwhile, Fylde have had to put on extra coaches to cope with the demand from fans who want to witness the biggest fixture in their history and a first meeting between the clubs.

Form guide:

Millwall: WDWWD


Match odds:

Millwall 2/5  Draw 7/2  AFC Fylde 13/2

Probable Millwall team:

4-4-2: Archer; Cummings, Webster, Beevers, J Martin; Onyedinma, Thompson, Williams, L Martin; Morison, O’Brien.

John Kelly