Accrington have the opportunity to make history at the weekend, but manager John Coleman insists it would be no surprise to him if they upset the odds against Derby.
Stanley have never before progressed beyond the fourth round of the FA Cup and standing in the way of their latest attempt to do so are the Rams, who are pushing for promotion to the Premier League under Frank Lampard.
Coleman admitted he was irritated at what he saw as his side, who currently sit 14th in Sky Bet League One, being written off when watching Derby creep past Southampton in a televised third-round replay.
Accrington saw off Derby’s Championship rivals Ipswich last time out and Coleman, while accepting his side are the underdogs, is intent on proving the doubters wrong again.
He said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if we beat them. I’d be delighted but I wouldn’t be surprised.
“We’re pleased we’re at home, that gives us more of a fighting chance. Derby are the favourites and rightly so, but I was intrigued by how readily all the pundits and the commentators were to write us off.
“When I was watching that replay, it didn’t matter who was going to win that game, they were going to have a walkover against Accrington, according to the pundits.
“There’s a little bit of motivation for our players to try to prove them wrong.
“Lots of people have written us off time and time again and they’ve been left with egg on their faces. We do enjoy trying to confound them.
“When it all boils down to it, it’s 11 v 11 on Saturday. It’s not their fans versus our fans, it’s not that the fact that they’re a top Championship side with a load of money.
“At the nitty gritty it’s 11 v 11 and they’ve all got two arms and two legs so we’ll just get on with it.”
Coleman believes the passing styles of both sides means the sold-out clash at the 5,400 capacity Wham Stadium could resemble “Barcelona versus Real Madrid”.
The 56-year-old Liverpudlian has had more than 1,000 matches as a manager, having begun his managerial career with non-league Ashton United in 1997.
Former England and Chelsea midfielder Lampard is in the infancy of his coaching career, yet Coleman insists he harbours no ill-will towards the former midfielder being handed a high-profile job at Derby despite no past experience.
Coleman added: “I don’t know whether it’s the empathy in me, but we’re all doing the same job and I don’t like to see anybody struggle, I like to see people thrive.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for (Lampard) as a player, I’ve gotten so much enjoyment out of watching him play, the last thing I would want him to do now is fail.”
Accrington striker Billy Kee has urged his team-mates to enjoy the occasion as opportunities to pit their wits against higher-class opponents are few and far between.
He said: “You don’t get many chances like this in your career, it’s massive and I think that’s what we’ll all relish.”
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