Mark Cooper is already dreaming of an FA Cup tie against Manchester United after Forest Green made short-shrift of non-league minnows Billericay.
A first-half goal rush saw the League Two leaders kill the game at the break in a one-sided FA Cup first-round tie against Jamie O’Hara’s National League South side, who currently sit 12th in National League South, 59 league places below Forest Green.
Cooper said: “We want to look at it prudently and if we’re being realistic, we want the lowest team possible at home in the next round and draw Manchester United in the third round and get knocked out everyone is happy and we get our massive finance and then we can concentrate on the league.
“We’ve got to get through the second round first, but this is our year for the draw, I’m convinced.”
Earlier, With the game in doubt due to heavy rain, referee Graham Salisbury declared the New Lawn pitch playable just 30 minutes before kick-off.
From the get-go it was evident the ball was failing to roll smoothly on the rain-soaked surface, but it was Rovers who found their feet quickly.
And a clinical three-goal flurry in the final eight-minutes of the fist-half knocked the stuffing out of O’Hara’s side.
Former boxer Matty Stevens delivered the first blow in the 38th minute – leaping above a statuesque defence to plant a towering header beyond Alan Julian from a precise Aaron Collins’ cross. And on the cusp of the break Joseph Mills angled cross caught Julian cold for Rovers’ second.
Celtic loanee Jack Aitchison made it 3-0 deep into first-half stoppage-time with a sweet finish for his fourth goal in as many games.
Rovers started the second-half with the same intensity they displayed at the end of the first, Collins bringing a strong glove from Julian.
Rovers made it four in the 65th minute when Liam Shephard watched his skidder bounce up and over Julian from an Elliott Frear cross. And Collins was a whisker from a fifth – skewing wide from a Frear cross.
Jake Robinson thought he had grabbed a consolation strike 15 minutes from time when he turned in Sam Deering’s fizzer which Jo Wollacott failed to hold, but the offside flag tempered his celebration. Frear hobbled off near the end as Rovers made it comfortably into round two.
Cooper added: “The FA Cup can be brutal, and we made sure we got the job done, which we did today.
“We wanted to get through without injuries, but we lost Elliott (Frear) with a pinched a nerve and lost feeling in the bottom of his legs, but we hope he’ll be ok.”
O’Hara felt counterpart Cooper paid his side the ultimate respect by naming his first-choice side.
“He (Cooper) played his strongest team and that showed the respect they gave us,” O’Hara said.
“Forest Green are a really good side and play like they’re going to go up.
“I was proud of the boys and this is a tough place to visit. We kept going but the pressure in the end got to us, but we’ve had a great run.”