HAR­RIS AD­MITS PRIDE IN FLYDE

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FIRST ROUND - By Hash Piperdy

NEIL HAR­RIS be­lieves the fu­ture is bright for AFC Fylde af­ter they made his Millwall side work for their FA Cup vic­tory in the first-ever com­pet­i­tive meet­ing be­tween the two sides.

Af­ter a goal­less first half, League One player of the month for Oc­to­ber Ai­den O’Brien came on af­ter the in­ter­val and changed the game, scor­ing be­fore Lee Gre­gory dou­bled the home side’s lead on the hour.

The vis­i­tors, who headed into this game hav­ing won nine straight in all com­pe­ti­tions and sit­ting top of Na­tional League North, al­most im­me­di­ately halved the deficit through Alex Whit­tle.

But with two min­utes re­main­ing Steve Mori­son added a third for Millwall and Har­ris knew his team had been in a real bat­tle.

“We didn’t have a sparkle and weren’t proac­tive enough,” he said.

“I’m de­lighted to get through and be re­spect­ful to the op­po­si­tion and I thought they were a credit to them­selves and their league.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed not to have a clean sheet. I knew it would be dif­fi­cult and we pre­pared the play­ers for it.

“I’ve played in those games and it’s dif­fi­cult un­til you get the first goal.We gave a re­ally dis­ap­point­ing goal away, and we should have been con­form­able at 2-0.

“Credit to the op­po­si­tion for tak­ing that spark away in the first half, but some­times it hap­pens in foot­ball, just ask Louis van Gaal.

“They’re a good side, they’re at the top of their league and they’ll prob­a­bly be right at the top of the Con­fer­ence next year too. Credit to them.”

The hosts set­tled ear­li­est but the first-half’s best chance fell to AFC Fylde’s Danny Rowe, who beat his man and rolled the ball past David Forde, only for it to fin­ish nar­rowly wide.

Af­ter the break the dead­lock was bro­ken by sub­sti­tute O’Brien as he con­trolled Mori­son’s header and con­tin­ued his red­hot form by calmly fir­ing past the goal­keeper.

The lead dou­bled on the hour af­ter Gre­gory con­verted fol­low­ing some great foot­work from Shaun Wil­liams.

Dave Challi­nor’s men scored im­me­di­ately from the restart as Whit­tle bun­dled in a goal via the post.

But Millwall killed the game off late on with a counter-at­tack that Mori­son con­fi­dently swept home, al­though Challi­nor was not far from doom and gloom.

The AFC Fylde man­ager said: “It’s a mas­sive learn­ing curve, but hope­fully mo­ti­vat­ing too.

“Some of my play­ers can play higher, so to play in larger are­nas and that level of foot­ball week in, week out should be what they as­pire to. We’re dis­ap­pointed but we’ll put that be­hind us.

“We wanted to put on a good show.We needed to be on it, they needed to be off it a bit and we needed some luck, and we didn’t get that bit of luck in fair­ness and Ai­den O’Brien came on at half-time and he was too good for us at times.”

PIC­TURE: TGSPHOTO

FIRST AID: Lions’ Ai­den O'Brien breaks the dead­lock at the New Den FIGHT­ING CHANCE: Alex Whit­tle gives the away side hope

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