Pitch can help City win cup derby – Zico

Ryan Zico Black believes the Giant Axe pitch can be Lancaster City's secret weapon when they go head to head with his old side Morecambe in FA Trophy fourth round tie tomorrow.

The ex-Shrimps' striker, who swapped one side of the River Lune for the other last summer, has been forced to adapt his own game to the heavy pitch after four years of being spoiled with Christie Park's super


And he believes his old team-mates will not enjoy making the short trip to their local rivals.

He said: "The pitch here can be tough to play on and I am sure Morecambe will not be looking forward to coming down here, their pitch is normally pretty decent so this will be a bit of a shock.

"It is quite difficult to play on and I have had to change my game to play on it, so I am sure it will be a leveller and we will have a good chance.

"It is not a massive gap between them in the Conference and us in Conference North and we will all be looking forward to that one and feel we have a chance at our own place. They will be favourites and that is fine by us, we will just take it as it comes."

Black, who now lives a stone's throw away from Giant Axe, was born in Guernsey and played alongside the Channel Isles most famous son Matthew Le Tissier during his appearances for their representative side, but his career in Lancashire began in the Morecambe youth academy where he came under the wing of current first-team boss Jim Harvey.

It was the influence of the boss that helped Black win call-ups to the Northern Ireland under-19s and under-21s side and his obvious talent and ability to play left, right or centre of midfield made him a vital part of the Shrimps' squad.

He made his debut for the club in 1999 and was part of the side which reached the Conference play-offs semi-finals last season, recorded a runners-up position in the league and twice reached the third round of the FA Cup appearing in both defeats to Ipswich Town.

It was inconsistency which proved his downfall as he failed to hold down a starting spot at Morecambe and his lack of first-team opportunities forced him to turn down a new contract offer lthe summer before last and moved to Giant Axe after spells with Northwich Victoria and Glenavon in Northern Ireland.

Black said: "I enjoyed my stay at Morecambe and it was one of the most successful periods of my career. We finished second one year, got into the play-offs and played Ipswich Town twice in the FA Cup while I was at the club, so I had a really good time there.

"It was a hard decision for me to leave because they were going to renew my contract, but I felt it was the right time to leave. I get on well with the manager there and am still chat to a lot of the lads although obviously I do not get to see most of them as much as I would like to these days."

Lancaster boss Phil Wilson admits the tie is probably more important to his side than it is to their visitors, who still harbour ambitions of winning promotion to the Football League this season, and hopes a bumper crowd can help his side make full use of their home advantage.

He said: "It is a massive game for both sets of fans and our players will definitely be up for it. There is obviously local pride at stake and the chance to go further in a competition where there is money to be made and if our players play to their potential we have a good opportunity of making progress.

"All you can ask for in cup games is home advantage and we have got that and, as Scarborough found out when we played them in the FA Cup earlier in the season, we will not be a pushover and they will know they have been in a game.

"Morecambe are the Conference side and on paper they should run out comfortable winners, but nothing in football is decided on paper."

Wilson is hoping that midfielder Ryan Elderton and winger Neil Prince will return from injury having trained this week.