McDonald’s wish on historic cup day for Fylde coast

Neil McDonald
Neil McDonald
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Manager Neil McDonald hopes today’s FA Cup trip to Barnet proves a welcome distraction for his Blackpool side on a historic day which sees three Fylde coast clubs compete in the first round for the first time.

Pool will be joined in the capital by non-league neighbours AFC Fylde, whose reward for winning three qualifying ties is a trip to Millwall.

With Fleetwood Town also away to League One opposition in high-flying Walsall, Blackpool are the only one of the Fylde trio to face a side from a lower level and McDonald is hopeful of a return to winning ways after back-to-back defeats.

“It’s a welcome break,” said the Pool boss. “It changes everyone’s focus and gives us a bit of time to get over a couple of injuries.

“It’s a game we can win if we play well. We’ll be up against a side who are very direct and will give everything, just like their manager (Martin Allen). We’ll have to be on our guard.”

The Bees boss watched the Seasiders lose at Bradford on Tuesday and McDonald is only too aware of the threat posed by his League Two side, who are unbeaten in four, winning three of them.

McDonald added: “It’s going to be a challenge but one we are up for. There will be pressure because I think we’ll be favourites.

“People I’ve spoken to say Barnet get the ball forward and work from there. We dealt with that against Bradford and I hope we can again.”

Loan defender Hayden White will miss the trip after straining a hamstring at Valley Parade.

“It looks like he’s going to be out for a couple of weeks,” explained McDonald. “We’re going to miss him because he has done really well for us.”

Fellow loanee Kwame Thomas is expected to appear after parent club Derby granted permission.

Vanarama National North leaders Fylde have reached the first round twice before in recent seasons but chairman David Haythornthwaite believes the Millwall match is the club’s biggest ever.

He said: “This is a massive opportunity for us and it’s without a doubt the biggest game the club has had.

“Plymouth last year (and Accrington two years earlier) were League Two. Millwall are League One, so this is another step up for us. It will be a fantastic day out for the players, the manager and supporters.

“Opportunities like this help to raise the profile of the club. The FA Cup is very special and for a club at our level to progress is fantastic.

“I’m personally hoping we get a draw and bring them back to Kellamergh Park. There is a good chance that would be on TV.”