Smith extends stay at Cheltenham
Jonté Smith hopes to become the fourth Bermudian to play in a final at Wembley Stadium after signing a contract extension at Sky Bet League Two side Cheltenham Town.
Smith’s one-year deal was due to expire on Wednesday, but he has agreed to stay at the club for another month, ensuring he will be available for their play-off campaign.
The Bermuda forward will follow in the footsteps of Shaun Goater (Rotherham United and Manchester City), Kyle Lightbourne (Stoke City) and Nahki Wells (Huddersfield Town and Bradford City) should he feature for Cheltenham in the League Two play-off final.
Of the trio, Wells is the only Bermudian to score at the iconic stadium after netting in Bradford’s 3-0 win over Northampton Town in the League Two play-off final in 2013.
Up first for Cheltenham will be the play-off semi-final against Northampton, which looks set to take place without supporters because of Covid-19 and social distancing guidelines.
The two-legged tie has been slated for the end of this month.
“I’m happy to be a part of the team for the play-offs,” Smith told Gloucestershire Live.
“It’s been a strange season, but I think personally it’s been a good one as eventful as its been.
“I’ve scored a few goals and made an assist in around 500 or so minutes, scoring my first Football League goal.
“It’s now an opportunity to become the fourth Bermudian to play in a Wembley final as well as become the second to score at one, so it means a lot and not just for me.”
Smith joined Cheltenham last September after catching the eye while on trial during pre-season.
The 25-year-old plundered a hat-trick against West Ham United Under-21s in the Leasing.com Trophy in October and scored in his first league goal in the 3-0 win at Mansfield Town in December.
He was scheduled to start against Port Vale a fortnight later, but he was struck down by glandular fever, which kept him out until the end of February.
“I had a temperature and felt under the weather so I missed the Vale game,” said Smith, who was hospitalised over Christmas.
“It was a tough call to make because I knew how much I wanted to play, but I had to think of the team first and I wasn’t in any condition to perform.
“It was a tough period for me as I was getting a run of games and scored my first professional goal, so to then fall ill out of nowhere was crazy.”
Aside from sticking to his personal fitness programme, Smith has been in regular contact with his friends and family in Bermuda during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as picking up a few new skills.
“I’ve been given a guide by the club for runs, rest days and different types of physical activity to maintain what we’ve worked so hard to get in terms of physical fitness throughout the season,” he said.
“It’s very detailed and specific which will help us in the play-offs.”
He added: “With the way technology is these days it’s a lot easier to stay in contact, with video calling and messaging, to make sure everyone’s doing well and the family are safe and sound pretty much every day.
“I’ve been trying a few things to keep my brain stimulated, learning Spanish on an app and different things like that. Things to occupy the time and keep my mental sharpness high.”
Smith and the rest of his team-mates, who were tested for Covid-19 at the Whaddon Road car park on Friday, returned to training today.
“It was pretty much a drive by test, driving to a specific spot, putting the window down and letting Sophie, Gavin [Crowe] and James [Redman] do what they need to, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Smith said of getting tested for Covid-19,” Smith added.
“We have a short space of time to prepare for important games so everyone’s going to be on it and pushing each other like we have been all season. You grow to miss that atmosphere.”
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