Memories of one of *the* great FA Cup upsets as Rotherham United head to Fulham

ROTHERHAM United boss Leam Richardson takes his Championship side to Premier League Fulham in the FA Cup knowing that huge shocks aren't beyond the realms of possibility.

After all, he was part of the Wigan Athletic League One set-up that once famously got the better of Pep Guardiola and mighty Manchester City in the competition.

As he prepares for tomorrow night's Millers third-round tie at Craven Cottage, he'll think back to that great day in February 2018 when a goal by Will Grigg, who would later go on to play for Rotherham, toppled a Pep side containing Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Bernardo Silva and David Silva 1-0 at a packed DW Stadium.

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"There have been a few big FA Cup moments for me, but that one obviously sticks in my mind," said Richardson who was number two to Latics manager Paul Cook at the time of that fifth-round giant-killing.

Rotherham United head coach Leam Richardson. Picture: Jim BrailsfordRotherham United head coach Leam Richardson. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Rotherham United head coach Leam Richardson. Picture: Jim Brailsford

"It's not every day you're up against Pep Guardiola and a plethora of international footballers. We got the win and had to ride our luck at times.

"The atmosphere was fantastic and the goal was very good. There were some very good individual performances on the night. We created memories that will last for a very long time."

Rotherham have to try to do what Arsenal couldn't last Sunday. The Gunners were beaten 2-1 by the The Cottagers who recorded their sixth triumph in ten top-flight fixtures on their own turf to emphasise the size of the task facing the injury-hit Millers.

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"Listen, we're going to have to work very hard," said Richardson. "It will be a healthy challenge. First and foremost, we have to give a good account of ourselves. Anywhere you go in the Premier League or Championship, you have to be at your optimum level.

"It's not ideal having the fixture brought forward by a day but it's something we have to adapt to and we'll do our best."

The Millers will be without a host of sidelined players and the head coach intimated that the match could come too soon for winger Fred Onyedinma who is back in training after a six-week absence with hamstring trouble but might not yet be ready to return.

Around 700 travelling fans are making their way to West London for the 7.30pm kick-off, encouraged by the recent revival of the second tier's bottom club who have won one and drawn two of their last three games.

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"We need to meet Fulham in certain areas and we need to impose ourselves in certain ways as well." said Richardson.

"A positive performance would keep that momentum going, keep the belief, keep individuals growing within their job spec. The group would benefit from that. You can build on any good result."

He spared another thought for that epic evening against City six years ago: "It wasn't bad as far as cup upsets go, was it? You'll do well to better that one."

As for another big surprise tomorrow evening …

"It starts with a lot of hard work and sometimes you need a bit of luck as well," he said. "The Manchester City game showed that anything can happen if you put the work in, are diligent in what you do and play with expression and belief."


One to watch

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Raul Jimenez is in good form for Fulham and five of his eight goals this season have come in his last seven outings. He was on target for the Cottagers against Arsenal on Sunday. The Mexican forward moved to Craven Cottage for £5 million last July from Wolves, who had paid Benfica £33m for him in 2019. The 32-year-old has played for his country 104 times, scoring 33 goals.

Form guide

Fulham: WLDLLW

Rotherham: LLLWDD

Recent meetings

Apr 1 2017, Championship: Millers 0 Fulham 1

Dec 13, 2016, Championship: Fulham 2 Millers 1

Joe Newell

Dec 29, 2015, Championship: Fulham 4 Millers 1

Farrend Rawson

Aug 29, 2015, Championship: Millers 1 Fulham 3

Jonson Clarke-Harris

Apr 15, 2015, Championship: Fulham 1 Millers 1

Matt Derbyshire

Opposition boss

Marco Silva has been head coach of Fulham since July 21, having previously been in charge of Hull City, Watford and Everton. Now aged 46, he was a right-back in his playing days in his home country of Portugal. Hull were relegated from the Premier League under him and he was sacked at Watford and Everton. He revived his fortunes by leading Fulham back to the top flight in 2022 and keeping them there since.

Man in the middle

Dean Whitestone has been an EFL referee since 2005. The police officer from Northampton has taken charge of 17 matches this season, issuing 63 yellow cards and one red. His last experience of the Millers came in October when he refereed the 2-1 loss to Bristol City at New York Stadium. He is one of the most experienced officials in the Football League and has well over 300 matches under his belt.

The odds

Unsurprisingly, the bookies make Fulham hot favourites, offering a home win at 1/6 and a Rotherham triumph at 12/1. The Millers have won 12 of 48 contests between the clubs since 1919.