BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Millwall manager Neil Harris reckons only the top clubs left in the FA Cup will fancy a date at The Den.
The Lions have taken a host of Premier League scalps in the past few seasons and added Everton to the list after Murray Wallace’s stoppage-time strike sealed a 3-2 win on Saturday.
Thirteen top-flight sides are already out of the competition – including big-hitters like Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham.
But the Lions chief – speaking before Millwall were drawn away to AFC Wimbledon in last night’s draw – doesn’t reckon that makes it more likely a side from the Championship can reach the latter stages of the tournament.
Millwall were 2004 finalists and lost 3-0 to Manchester United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Harris said: “I think it pans out pretty normally like this most years – there is a 50-50 split of top-flight clubs and ones from lower down the competition.
“If you come up against a Premier League side you are not expected to progress. If you get a team from the same division or lower it gives you a better opportunity to get through.
“Everybody in the fifth round is there on merit. Each draw becomes tough it its own way.
“What I do know is that there are not going to be many left in the competition – barring the top few – who are going to fancy playing Millwall.”
Millwall, quarter-finalists in 2017, are 50-1 to win the FA Cup with Manchester City (7/4), Chelsea (3/1) and Manchester United (7/2) the favourites.
Wolves (10/1) and Crystal Palace (16/1) are the next shortest prices.
Harris has praised his players for knocking out the Toffees.
“The discipline and understanding tactically what I asked the players to give, they delivered.
“You can talk about Everton not being in consistent form but they are a top-half Premier League team with pride, history and they have spent hundreds of millions of pounds in the last few years.
“They have got some real attacking threat in their team and create chance after chance, week after week, in the Premier League. They only had three shots in 90 minutes and one of those was a speculative one which Jordan [Archer] would expect to save 19 times out of 20.
“They created very little. That comes down to hard work, organisation, communication and desire. We defended the box very well.”
That last statement did not apply to Everton as they conceded from three free-kicks.
“We had more quality, desire and anticipation in the penalty area,” said Harris. “That’s why we deserved to win the game.
“We’ve had more contacts in the penalty area than any team in our division but not always had the luck with chances or the second ball. When you get all those fine margins right then you win games.
“The atmosphere in the stadium was as good as I can ever remember at the New Den. It was a great occasion. There were elements in our favour – the kick-off time, the [wet] weather and the support the fans showed to the players. The players gave a performance to the fans.
“It was a proud evening for us.
“We we need to do in less fashionable circumstances is recreate it against Rotherham on Saturday. It is just as big a game, if not a bigger game.
“My thoughts quickly turned to that game and looking at what team they put out against Leeds. I have watched three of their games this weekend, so I know how they set up and what they’ll do against us.
“It will be a different challenge to Everton. They are a big, physical and aggressive team who get the ball forward.”
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.