Former Charlton Athletic midfielder: Millwall-Brighton will have a derby feel because of Den atmosphere

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens admits that Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Millwall will feel like a derby – because of the atmosphere generated by the hosts at The Den.

Albion have had a clear week to prepare for the quarter-final tie but their Championship opponents are in action at Birmingham City tonight.

Former Charlton midfielder Stephens was asked if last weekend’s grudge clash with Crystal Palace – which they won 2-1 at Selhurst Park – was ideal prep for stepping out in SE16. He told The Argus: “Perhaps. We knew those abilities coming to a place like Palace, where it is always tough.

“They play with a lot of tempo, a lot of intent, and they have a lot of good wide players so we knew that we needed to be solid through the centre of the pitch and it was my job to orchestrate that. Millwall is a tough place and it is similar to a derby experience.

“Their fans get behind their team and it’s part of what they are good at.

“They are a direct team and an aggressive side.

“We are looking to get on top of them and play our own match as well.

“The cup is a good opportunity for some of the smaller teams in the league and we fit that criteria.

“But we also know the league is our bread and butter and that comes first.

“Because we have no Premier League game this week, or the week after, it is a one-off game.

“We would treat it like that, regardless of the last two results.

“It is an opportunity for the players who play in the competition to go out and show what they can do again.

“It’s a game we’re looking forward to and progressing in the competition.

“It’s a massive opportunity for us.

“If you look at what has happened in the competition, the teams that have gone out and stayed in, we find ourselves still in it and that’s a welcome situation for ourselves.

“We are looking to progress to a semi-final at Wembley.”