Jontť Smith was one of five players released by Cheltenham Town at the end of their contracts on Tuesday. Smith scored four goals in six starts and 12 substitute appearances for Cheltenham after joining at the start of September last year. Here he discusses with Jon Palmer a Football Writer with Gloucestershire Live his spell with the League Two club, who were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Northampton Town in the play-off semi-finals.
It has been a great experience. I was the last man in the door last summer, making my debut the next day, scoring a hat-trick versus West Ham and being voted Player of the Month by fans - it was a great start. I would have liked to have played more as I felt I had done enough to get more game time, but I played my part along the way, scoring my first professional goal in England, as I had scored a few overseas, but I'm happy with what I have achieved here.
What has been the highlight?
The highlight was working with this group of players everyday. Thereís a real togetherness and you donít find that often. From all the conversations we had as a group about last season and the mentality shift that everyone made to change our fortunes was great to see. Spending the season near the top end of the table while everyone was expecting us to be in the bottom half was a testament to that.
How much do you believe you have improved as a player since joining the club?
My hold up play has improved tremendously because youíre not always going to play the system you enjoy playing, so you have to be able to adapt to different systems and learn really quickly.
How pleased were you with the impact you made from the bench in the semi-final first leg at Northampton?
Yes, I thought I played well because the game was free-flowing and I was in areas I am most effective.
You appeared to pick up an injury during the first half of the second leg, what happened?
During the 50/50 my ankle twisted. Adrenaline carried me through the half, but as soon as I stopped running it started to stiffen and swell up, By the end of the game I had to leave in a medical boot and crutches, but Iíve started recovery now and Iíll be back fit soon.
Not the way everyone wanted the season to end, how would you sum up Monday night's experience?
It was tough, one of the toughest moments in football. All of our hard work throughout the season coming to an abrupt end like that was heartbreaking. Itís something that I canít dwell on for too long, I just need to learn from it.
What did the manager say to you about the future and do you understand what was said and why?
He didnít really say much because that's one of the toughest parts about being a manager and having to let players go. I understand why the decision has been made and I respect it because he (Michael Duff) gave me the opportunity to be here so I am forever grateful. You never know one day we may work together again.
What is your plan now?
To keep pushing and trying to work my way up the leagues; my mindset hasnít changed. The goal is still the same, I have proven myself time and time again and I am sure I will continue to do that.