?Jonté Smith says his match-winning exploits that catapulted Cheltenham Town to a 4-3 home win over West Ham United Under-21 in the EFL Trophy was a “long-time dream come true”.
The 25-year-old forward struck a hat-trick on his full debut to lead the home side’s brilliant comeback in the Southern group E match at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Tuesday.
Smith netted his first goal for the club and as an English professional in the 25th minute before adding two more after the break to help his team erase a 3-1 deficit and claim the match ball.
“I’m happy to have got my first goals for Cheltenham in what was a thrilling game for all the fans,” he said.
“I am happy because I’ve been dreaming for this moment for a long time and it’s finally come. I will remember it for a long time, and hopefully there is more to come.”
With the score level at 3-3, after a brace from Daniel Kemp and a goal from Bernardo Rusa, George Lloyd found the winner for Cheltenham in the 67th minute.
“We didn’t perform the best in the first half,” Smith added. “But we turned things around and went back to playing the way that we’ve been playing these last few weeks, and thankfully we got the rewards from that.”
Cheltenham are third in the four-team group with three points from two games.
Smith took the opportunity during his moment in the spotlight to thank his parents for their sacrifice and support they have provided him over the years.
“They sacrificed so much for me,” he said. “The list is endless with what they’ve done to help me get where I am today and I’ll be for ever grateful. I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for them pushing me and believing in me. They have done more for me than I could ever imagine.”
Smith signed for Sky Bet League Two side Cheltenham on transfer deadline day until January, making his debut at in a 4-2 home victory over Stevenage last month.