Wigan Athletic will have to be at their best if they are to overcome the real threat posed by non-league AFC Fylde in tonight’s FA Cup second-round replay.
That’s the message from assistant manager Leam Richardson, who is expecting Dave Challinor’s men to follow in the footsteps of most visitors to the DW Stadium this term and raise their game by a significant percentage.
“Fylde will come full of expectation, full of wanting to win and getting through to round three – as will we,” revealed Richardson, conducting pre-match media duties on behalf of boss Paul Cook.
“Fingers crossed we can apply ourselves very well and get the job done.
“We’ve found most teams have raised their game at the DW Stadium this year.
“But we’ve got good people in place here, and we make sure we do the proper analysis and research on any team we come up against.
“Individually and collectively the players will have all the info on who they’re coming up against, and the shape in general.
“We’ll be fully prepared for the game, don’t worry about that.”
Tonight’s game is an additional – not to mention somewhat unnecessary – fixture, with Latics unable to get the job done at the first time of asking earlier this month.
A Will Grigg header just before half-time at Mill Farm put the visitors in charge, but they were pegged back by Danny Rowe’s penalty with 20 minutes to go.
“It’s not ideal, but replays are part and parcel of the game, and being involved in cup competitions,” Richardson recognised.
“If you want to be successful and achieve all your objectives, you’re going to have to play well over 50 games, sometimes even 60.
“We’re fully prepared for that, we’ve got a strong squad in place, and we’re ready for the challenge.”
Richardson is also quick to dismiss talk of being a ‘David against Goliath’ encounter.
“I know people have been labelling it as a potential ‘banana skin’, but that term comes purely off the league that you’re in,” he explained.
“I think Fylde are a very good football club, as you can see from their facilities, and the plans that are in place.
“They’ve got some good players, they’re able to attract Football League players, and they’re making big strides on and off the field.
“But as far as we’re concerned, we desperately want to stay in the FA Cup.
“The history around the place tells you about what this competition means to the club.
“When you’ve won the competition as a club, especially so recently, it means so much and it’s important we treat the competition seriously.
“The FA Cup is a special competition regardless of that – for players, management and supporters – but it gives us something extra special to live up to.”
The draw at Fylde was the only game Latics have failed to win in the last four, since they were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Bradford last month.
The most recent success – a 2-0 victory over Fleetwood on Saturday – was as routine as they come, with Latics extending their lead at the top of League One to four points.
“It was another strong win at home, against a very good team,” added Richardson. “I thought we applied ourselves well, we scored at good times, and then managed the game from there on in.
“I know it’s a cliche, but at this time of year you’re just concentrating on yourselves, game by game.
“Every game has its own rewards, and you treat them on their own merit.
“Obviously it’s always a nice bonus when the teams in and around you drop points.
“But there’s some good teams in this league, and we know we can’t afford to take our foot off the gas.”