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Jan 7 (Reuters) - Millwall enjoyed welcome respite from worrying about their future in English football by producing the biggest shock of the FA Cup third round with a 3-0 victory over Premier League Bournemouth on Saturday.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was left adamant that his top-flight side had not "disrespected" the famous old competition despite fielding a second-string squad against the side from League One, the third tier of the English game.
He paid for fielding a weakened side, though, with Millwall enjoying a thumping win with goals from Steve Morison, Shaun Cummings and Shane Ferguson.
It marked a notable day for the south-east London club at The Den, coming after a week in which Millwall conceded they may have to leave their famous home if the local council went ahead with plans to purchase and sell on land around the ground.
For an afternoon, though, the concerns were put aside as Howe completely changed the team that had drawn 3-3 with Arsenal in midweek for the visit to a club 44 places below them in the league pyramid.
Bournemouth were so poor that they failed to register a shot on target and became the first Premier League side to lose an FA Cup away match by three goals to opponents from the third tier or below.
"I'm not trying to disrespect the Cup, but the Premier League is very demanding and I've got to protect my players," Howe told reporters.
"I can't hide how I feel, I'm really disappointed. I see the players at work every day and I think they're much better than what they showed today," added the man who has been so widely praised for pushing his vibrant side into the top half of the league.
"Three-nil didn't flatter us, we could have scored more," said Millwall manager Neil Harris. "I'm really, really pleased to come off with a victory against this really talented Bournemouth squad." (Reporting by Ian Chadband, editing by Pritha Sarkar)