January 2015: CITY 4 (Hanson 8, Stead 17, Halliday 39, Knott 57) MILLWALL 0

“YOU’D think it would be harder against a Championship team second time round but it was the exact opposite.”

Andy Halliday hit the nail on the head with his dismissive reaction after City had dismantled Millwall in a one-sided FA Cup replay.

It is six years to the day since Phil Parkinson’s Bantams sent Ian Holloway’s Lions whimpering back to London with a 4-0 mauling.

When the FA Cup exploits of 2015 are mentioned – and THAT anniversary is just around the corner again – how City actually got to Stamford Bridge is often overlooked.

Millwall away, a team from the division above albeit struggling near the bottom, had seemed as inhospitable a third-round draw as possible.

Let's face it, it felt like the booby prize having dispatched non-league opposition in Halifax and Dartford to get a potential crack at the big boys.

A trip to the New Den was not the glittering outcome that City and their fans had hoped for.

But it turned out to be the gateway to magical FA Cup memories that will never grow old – as well a spark a two-and-a-half-year rivalry with Millwall that would finally end in Wembley heartache.

The first encounter was a wild, topsy-turvy affair as both sides shared six goals with City leading twice.

Billy Knott scored two before Ricardo Fuller’s second of the afternoon seven minutes from time spared the hosts and salvaged a 3-3 draw.

If City felt they had missed their chance, the tie awaiting the winners of the replay provided all the incentive needed for both sides.

Both had reason to savour the thought of treading the big stage with Chelsea – a Valley Parade crowd of 11,859, double that of the first tie, was tempted by the prospect of priority dibs at Stamford Bridge tickets.

But first, City had to overcome Millwall. They did it at a canter.

Millwall came with a game plan to rough them up but City went toe-to-toe on a muddy surface best described as “challenging”.

The bounce did for Mark Beevers just six minutes in and he saw red for hauling back James Hanson.

City immediately made their extra man count as Hanson headed home after Rory McArdle flicked on Halliday’s corner.

Another set-piece proved Millwall’s undoing again. Andrew Davies nodded down Filipe Morais' free-kick for Jon Stead to sweep home.

Millwall’s frustration bubbled over and a touchline foul by skipper Alan Dunne on Hanson led to a melee between both sets of players.

Parkinson and Steve Parkin also got involved – and were both sent to the stand.

James Meredith recalled: “Everyone wanted to play Chelsea in the next round so it was a really tough, proper match. I remember the first tackle with my winger and he went in hard.

“They went a bit too far and had that early red card as well as collecting Hans over the barrier, which caused some controversy and a little scuffle.”

The absence of their management team on the touchline had no effect on the dominant Bantams.

With goalkeeping coach Lee Butler and fitness head Nick Allamby presiding over matters, the hosts completely bossed a ragged Millwall outfit who looked just like they wanted to go home.

With the away end baying for Holloway’s blood, City stamped their authority on the night with a third goal before half-time as Halliday finished from close range.

There was hardly any threat going the other way. Winger Martyn Woolford thrashed one attempt wide but Millwall’s sole effort on target did not arrive until five minutes from time.

By then City were home and hosed as Knott netted his third goal of the tie to put the seal on securing a trip to the club where he had come through the academy.

Parkinson said: “There was a big prize at stake, to get the club into the fourth round for the first time in 15 years and the tie at Stamford Bridge.

"I said to the lads at half-time I had to apologise for that (being sent to the stands) because I had to ask them to keep their cool and stay on the pitch.

"But I'm glad it didn't ruin a great night. The lads didn't need us on the touchline anyway. It was nice and quiet for us in the stands."

The pair were hit with an FA misconduct charge and fined – but Halliday was delighted with their involvement.

“I love seeing everybody fight for each other. Surely the fans want to see how much we're prepared to work for each other and what it means.”

CITY: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Davies, Meredith, Morais, Liddle, Knott (Yeates 73), Halliday, Hanson (Routis), Stead (Zoko 69).

MILLWALL: Forde, Dunne, Beevers, Shittu, Briggs, Martin (Gueye 62), Abdou, Upson (Webster 46), Chaplow, Fuller (Woolford 23), Gregory.