Jonté Smith, the Cheltenham Town striker, believes today’s FA Cup second-round encounter against Sky Bet League Two rivals Port Vale is a massive fixture for the club and their fans.
Smith and his team-mates will host their league rivals at Jonny-Rocks Stadium in what will be their second match on their home turf in five days having played in a goalless draw against visiting Grimsby in the league on Tuesday.
“We are looking forward to it,” said Smith, who was chosen as Cheltenham’s Autovillage Player of the Month for October after a string of strong performances. “It’s a big game for the club and for the fans against a good team.
“They are a good team on a good run of form. We will have to be at our best to get a result from the game.”
Cheltenham advanced to the second round after securing a 1-0 win at League Two rivals Swindon Town in a first-round replay on November 19.
The initial FA Cup first-round tie between the two sides which Cheltenham hosted on November 9, ended 1-1.
“The FA Cup is the biggest domestic cup competition in the world and it’s an honour to be involved in the first round proper,” Smith, who signed for Cheltenham from Oxford United on transfer-deadline day until January, added.
“The FA Cup means a lot to everyone in English football so we’d like to be in it for as long as we can.”
Today’s cup tie will be the first meeting of the season between the two sides.
Michael Duff, the Cheltenham manager, admits his team have their work cut out against Port Vale, but is optimistic his players will be equal to the task.
“They’ve been excellent this year,” he said. “They’ve been on a good run, they’ve got a way of playing — they’re organised and fit.
“Similarly to ourselves, they’ve been much improved this season. We’re under no illusions — we’ve drawn our last three games, so we have to be better with the ball than we were last week and hopefully be as resilient defensively.”
The winner of the cup tie will progress to the third round where a potential big draw with Premier League and Championship teams awaits.