Road to Wembley: Stevenage v Forest Green - Alex Lawless interview

Gazette Series: Praised: Forest Green Rovers midfielder Alex Lawless (right) Praised: Forest Green Rovers midfielder Alex Lawless (right)

ALEX Lawless admitted he was pleasantly surprised when hearing the praise he received from Graham Westley - but that won’t stop the midfielder from trying to send his Stevenage side crashing out of the FA Trophy.

Forest Green travel to Broadhall Way for the eagerly anticipated quarter-final on Saturday, and earlier this week Stevenage boss Westley described the Welshman as someone “who impresses me with his consistency.”

Lawless said he wasn’t expecting it as strikers usually win the plaudits but he was flattered by the comments and will use it to inspire him against Westley’s Stevenage with a semi-final place at stake.

He said: “One or two of the lads mentioned it to me. I got the gist of it and I was quite surprised to be honest.

“It’s always a compliment when people say good things about you but I want to please my manager more than anything.

“When our manager compliments a player from another team it makes you want to work harder to stop them so I’ve probably got my work cut out now. It is positive for me though because I want to out-do them.”

Forest Green have beaten lower league opposition at home in the form of Hemel Hempstead Town, Redditch United, and Hednesford Town to reach the last eight of the Trophy but are up against the competition favourites in Stevenage.

Jim Harvey’s men have also enjoyed success in the Setanta Shield and the FA Cup this season, notably knocking out League Two side Rochdale before their epic 4-3 defeat to Championship giants Derby County in the third round.

However, they have continued to struggle in the league and went into last night’s match against Northwich Victoria lying in the relegation zone of the Blue Square Premier.

Lawless believes though that the underdog tag suits Forest Green in cup competitions and could work in their favour again on Saturday.

He said: “It is the first time we have played someone in our league, so this is the hardest one but I think from previous seasons the underdog tag has helped us so it’s not a bad thing at all.”

“Too many things throughout the season have affected our league form, and in terms of the FA Cup there’s a lot of motivation when you’re playing against the likes of Derby. We were the underdogs which worked in our favour.”

The winners on Saturday will progress to a two legged semi-final for a place at Wembley Stadium. Lawless has never played there before and said it is a great motivation for him and the players.

“It’s a massive ambition for me - I haven’t got anywhere near it,” he said.

“Every time we’ve played in the Trophy we talk about being a couple of games away from Wembley.

“It would be such a shame to let it go now so everyone is up for it.”

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