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Football: BLACK STIRRING UP A TASTY CUP FEAST.

Byline: Darren LEWIS

CHEF Tony Black is hoping to put a surprise or two pasta red-hot Millwall side in the FA Cup first round tomorrow.

The Leigh striker, more likely to wield a ladle than his lethal right foot, is keen to show why he has managed to smash 13 goals from 20 starts this season.

But he will need a jump-start of his own as he has been playing all season with a double hernia and lies face down on the team coach for a rubdown before every game.

Black, who works in the kitchens at Burnley General Hospital, explained: "I need plenty of rest between games, but there's no way I am missing the big game tomorrow.

"It really depends on the weather whether I feel it or not. If it is cold, it's a lot worse. But if it means a rub-down on the coach from the team physio or even the lads, I don't mind."

Mark McGhee's Millwall have roared up the second division to fifth place and will go top if they win their games in hand on leaders Walsall.

But Fulham will testify that Conference challengers Leigh roll over for no-one - and are not afraid to mix it with the big boys.

The Londoners, then managed by Kevin Keegan, were top of the second division two years ago - but still needed a replay to see off the Lancashire boys.

Two goals from Paul Peschisolido sank the non-Leaguers, but they vowed to bounce big into the big time. With four survivors from the 1998 side available, they have their big chance at The New Den.

Black's specialities in the kitchen are French and Italian dishes. But he could have been serving up a few more goals in the Nationwide League had he not retired prematurely after suffering a broken leg while at Wigan.

He explained: "I've been working as a chef for three years - my speciality is pasta. I love eating it as well as cooking it.

"I have been playing for Leigh for three seasons after being full-time at Wigan for three years but called it a day there after the leg-break.

"At the time I was gutted but it's only since I have got to Leigh I have started to enjoy myself and that makes me regret quitting so soon. I don't feel troubled by the injury any more and feel I could actually go back and do a job at that level."

Black lines up against a striker who could soon be playing at the highest level in English football.

Millwall marksman Neil Harris - with 11 goals in 13 games - is being targeted by a clutch of Premiership clubs after his early season blitz. And a club that has produced whizzkid Cherno Samba and Manchester United's Teddy Sheringham could struggle to hold on to their goal ace if he reproduces his goalscoring feats in the Cup this season.

Black is well aware of the threat posed by Harris. "He has been getting plenty of goals and is obviously a player we will have to watch," he said.

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LIONS ON THE MENU: Tony Black plans a chef's surprise for Millwall
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 18, 2000
Words:529
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