MARK LILLIS hailed both Huddersfield Town’s players and supporters and spoke of his pride at the battling performance which kept the club in the FA Cup.
Town are likely to have a new manager by the time they go to the King Power Stadium for the fourth-round replay on Tuesday, February 12.
But owner-chairman Dean Hoyle has said former Town player and now academy manager Lillis will be back in the dug-out when high-riding Crystal Palace visit for a key Championship clash on Wednesday.
And the 53-year-old, delighted to have been in charge of the club he represented 242 times between 1978 and 1985 says he’s happy to carry on as long as he asked to.
Experienced Lillis, working with development chief Steve Eyre and academy coach Frankie Bunn, dipped into the academy ranks to hand 18-year-old Jordan Sinnott, the son of former Town skipper Lee, a debut as part of a new-look midfield diamond.
He also named Matt Crooks and Duane Holmes on the bench as he contended with the ineligibility of on-loan Leicester pair Jermaine Beckford and Neil Danns and the absence through injury of Joel Lynch, Keith Southern and Chris Atkinson.
“I’m obviously disappointed we didn’t get the win, but happy that we are still in the FA Cup and delighted with the way the lads went about things,” said Lillis, who has been Halifax manager and coached for Macclesfield, Derby, Scunthorpe, Stockport, Morecambe and Northern Ireland.
“Hats off to the fans as well (the 11,495 crowd included around 4,000 Leicester followers) because they responded to our efforts the way I knew they would.
“The players are frustrated and disappointed not to have won, but we gave one of the best teams in the Championship a game.”
Asked what he said to the players beforehand, Lillis explained: “I gave them some loving, because sometimes they need an arm around them and to be given some self-belief.
“But I also told them that we have a chairman who is putting his money where his mouth is and fans who are paying hard-earned cash to come and watch, and when that’s the case, you have to give something back. That’s the way I was brought up.”
Of the 4-1-3-2 diamond formation, Lillis explained: “I wanted to get the ball moving through midfield and give the strikers something to run onto.”