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Pearce: "All the boys stood up at Wimbledon"

Defender reflects on entering hat for Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Finals

18 February 2019

Alex Pearce has commended the character shown by Millwall to grind out a vital Emirates FA Cup victory at AFC Wimbledon, gaining The Lions a place in the hat for Monday night's Quarter-Final draw.

The on-loan defender was brought into the starting XI by Neil Harris for the tie, helping the team to a crucial clean sheet at Kingsmeadow.

"It's a great feeling to go there and get through, up against a team who make it really hard for you," Pearce says.

"They're very direct in their style of play and they keep going to the very end. We had to see the game out really well, and it certainly was a tough afternoon for us.

"But we've earned the reward of reaching the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup, and credit to all the lads involved for how hard we had to work for it."

The centre-half explains the challenges involved in seeing out the win, and praised the impact of Murray Wallace, who notched the decisive goal for a second successive round.

"I think we started off really well with Muzza [Wallace] scoring the early goal - it was a great ball in and Muzza did what he does best, making a great connection with the header to put it into the back of the net.

"From then on, we managed the game really well. I think we used our experience at times and slowed the game down, and like I say, they made it hard for us. Every time it went out of play they would keep us on our toes with their throw-ins very quickly, and they had a few good opportunities.

"We had to ride our luck at times, but I thought we fully deserved the win today and we move happily onto the next round."

Pearce says the team "stood up" against a tough opponent and lively crowd, and is happy with the personal impact he made having replaced Shaun Hutchinson in Harris' back line.

"The win's the main thing, and then after that the clean sheet. Obviously as a defender, you want to come into the team and earn a clean sheet, and help the team win.

"From back to front, I think all the boys stood up, which is what you need going to places like Wimbledon. You can't go into your shells at a difficult place to come to with their style of play and the way the crowd get behind them. I think we dealt with that well, and we're happy with ourselves."

After signing for the club on loan from Derby County in January, Pearce explains how well he feels he has settled in at The Den, and touches on his appearances for Kevin Nugent's U23 side, where he has acted as a terrific mentor to the young Lions.

"I've loved every minute of being here - it's a great club with a great feel to it. As soon as I walked into the place I could feel that, and the lads are a close-knit bunch who welcomed me in straight away.

"It's been a positive experience as well playing a couple of times in the U23s, helping the younger lads having been around for a number of years and passing on my experience."

Pearce finally makes his preferences clear regarding the draw for the last eight of the Cup.

"Anyone but Manchester City," the defender states.

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