The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO RESULTS - By Chris Dunlavy

LEEDS boss Garry Monk has warned his play­ers not to use Sut­ton’s plas­tic pitch as an ex­cuse if they fall victim to a slay­ing in to­day’s tele­vised clash.

Sut­ton, the low­est-ranked side re­main­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion, beat ten-man Wim­ble­don 3-1 in a re­play to reach the fourth round for the first time since 1989.

Af­ter the ini­tial 0-0 draw at Gan­der Green Lane, Dons boss Neal Ard­ley ad­mit­ted the U’s 3G sur­face had been a “mas­sive fac­tor” in the home side’s favour.

But Monk’s in-form Whites have spent the week train­ing on syn­thetic grass and the for­mer Swansea de­fender in­sists you won’t here complaints from any­one in a white shirt.

“I don’t care if it’s 4G, 3G, grass or con­crete,” said Monk, whose side beat Cam­bridge 2-1 at the Abbey in round three. “We’d still have the same men­tal­ity and the same ap­proach.


“It’s a dif­fer­ent sur­face and yes, that poses a chal­lenge. But we’re not a team who make ex­cuses, be­fore or af­ter the game. We know what to ex­pect and we’re pre­pared.

“We’re lucky at Thorp Arch. We have a fa­cil­ity with an ar­ti­fi­cial pitch so we’ve been pre­par­ing our­selves on that sur­face. We’d done what we can to mimic the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Re­mem­ber, we faced a game against Cam­bridge where the game was very wet and muddy and that can be just as much of a lev­eller.

“But we pre­pared the same way – no de­tail left out, fo­cus on our­selves. In­stead of see­ing prob­lems, let’s look at the pitch and see how we can use it to our ad­van­tage.”

Sut­ton – con­querors of Coven­try in 1989 – have ac­tu­ally faced Leeds at this stage of the FA Cup be­fore, go­ing down 6-0 to Don Re­vie’s fear­some side.

Given Leeds’ re­cent surge to third in the Cham­pi­onship, plenty of pun­dits are an­tic­i­pat­ing sim­i­lar car­nage this af­ter­noon – but Monk’s play­ers are not among them.

“We’re not stupid,” added Monk. “We don’t pre­sume any­thing be­cause pre­sum­ing can lead you into a trap. We stay fo­cussed, re­spect ev­ery op­po­nent. We see it as a good op­por­tu­nity to progress, of course. But they will look at it ex­actly the same way. Adren­a­line, emo­tions – those things can en­hance any team’s per­for­mance and we’ve got to be wary of that.

“I know the man­ager, Paul Doswell, very well from our time to­gether at Southamp­ton. We’ve watched Sut­ton and they’ve done ter­rif­i­cally well. They’re a good side.

“It’s the same as we faced in the last round, re­ally. Po­ten­tially a dif­fi­cult game but one that hinges on us im­pose our way of play­ing, our qual­ity. If we do that to the lev­els we’ve been reach­ing re­cently, we should be OK.”

With a game against Black­burn on Tues­day, Monk is likely to ring sev­eral changes, and has con­firmed that stricken teenager Mal­lik Wilks will fea­ture in the match­day squad.

Wilks’ brother, Ra­heem, was shot dead in a Leeds bar­ber­shop on Thurs­day in what police sus­pect was “tar­geted at­tack”. The club were pre­pared to give the mid­fielder time to grieve but he has asked to play. “I spoke to Ma­lik,” said Monk. “He’s suf­fer­ing as a per­son. We’re suf­fer­ing as a club. The fo­cus now is on on sup­port­ing him, mak­ing sure he’s treated in the right way. “It’s a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion for him, a very tough time. The only good thing for him is that he has his foot­ball to fo­cus on. “The plan was al­ways for him to be in­volved. That doesn’t change. I’ve spo­ken to him and he feels the same way, which is great.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

LAST ROUND: Sut­ton held AFC Wim­ble­don on their plas­tic pitch be­fore win­ning the re­play

RE­SPECT: Garry Monk isn’t tak­ing Sut­ton United for granted

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