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Harris | "The players will be ready"

Gills boss eager to progress to the second round of the FA Cup.

4 November 2022

The Gills manager wants to avoid an upset as his team make the long journey to AFC Fylde.

Neil Harris has a soft spot for an underdog, especially when it comes to the FA Cup. 

As a boy, he watched on at Wembley as an unfancied Wimbledon team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the competition, defeating heavyweights Liverpool who had all the odds stacked in their favour. As a man, he played in the Cup Final as his valiant Millwall side looked to overcome a world-class Manchester United team packed with outstanding talents such as Ronaldo, Giggs and van Nistelrooy.

This Saturday his sentimental weakness for the underdog story goes out the window and he is calling on his Gillingham outfit to bear their teeth and see off National League North side AFC Fylde.

Speaking to the media ahead of the game, Harris said: "Upsets have happened to most clubs, that's the beauty of the competition. It gives the underdog that opportunity in a one-off fixture. I've had those highs in the competition and I've had the lows, that's the beauty of the FA Cup. I am taking the competition extremely seriously. I have an absolute one hundred percent respect for the competition.

"It's the history of the competition; the romantic side of it. It's those dreams of it as a kid when you see your heroes walk out at Wembley Stadium.

"I remember being at Liverpool v Wimbledon with my dad in '88 and my dad was a Wimbledon fan. That was an important moment in my life growing up that led me to having an underdog status at times. I was lucky enough to play in a Final as an underdog with Milwall in 2004. I've also managed in a couple of Quarter Finals. I just think it's a great competition steeped in history and we will be taking it very seriously at the weekend.

"Saturday is a chance for Fylde's fans, their players, their manager and staff to get a giant killing. For us it's about trying to get through to the next round. It's a big game because we want to be in the second round."

Harris is keen for Gillingham to avoid being one of those 'David and Goliath' headlines in the Sunday morning papers and insists his side are ready to prove their mettle against a team looking to make a name for themselves.

"We know the challenge that lies in front of us but it is a winnable game," said the Gills boss. "I don't want to be on the end of an upset. I don't want us to be one of the first games on Match of the Day on Saturday night for that reason.

"We have prepared diligently and in the correct manner. We have left no stone unturned. Players will be ready for three o'clock on Saturday. FA Cup games are about mentality, as well as physicality. We are coming up against a good AFC Fylde team who play some good football and have some dangerous players. My men are fully aware of what to expect.

"Utmost respect to our opponents but they are two leagues below us. I want to see a winning mentality from my side. I want to see players who are hungry. 

"Mentality, preparation and then performing over the course of 90 minutes, that is all that matters." 

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