Reading loanee and current Cheltenham Town striker Sam Smith reveals he is ‘loving’ his time in Gloucestershire so far. Smith, 23, signed for the Robins in January on a loan deal which expires at the end of May.
The striker has hit the ground running for the League Two side in their quest for promotion to League One this season. In 11 games so far, the 23-year-old has netted three vital goals to date for Michael Duff’s side, and his good start so far has seen Smith enjoying life so far in the South West of England.
He said: “I’m loving it to be honest. I’ve come into a really good group and good squad. I have settled in well.
“The system the manager wants me to play suits me really well. I’m building new relationships on and off the pitch every week, which helps obviously. And it’s nice to get a run of games, and hopefully the wins can keep coming for the side.”
When asked about his favourite moment so far for the club, his first goal was one that stood out.
“My favourite moment was my Walsall goal on my first start for the club,” Smith revealed to me in an interview for Cheltenham Town’s weekly show (Inside CTFC).
The 23-year-old academy graduate has struggled for game time whilst being on the ranks at Reading, with his 11 appearances in all competitions of the 2017/18 season his main contribution to the first-team set-up. Those 11 games were viewed by Smith as useful and important in his development as a striker.
“I learned a lot from the few appearances I made,” Smith reflected. “I made my debut under Jaap Stam, and the system he played was very possession-based, and I played more of a lone striker which as a 19-year-old was really good for my development.
“Obviously getting my first professional goal was a great feeling, and it’s just something that builds you up for the rest of your career. And hopefully I can take what I’ve learnt from that experience into all my other experiences as a footballer.”
Consequently, because of the lack of regular appearances made over the years with the Royals, Smith has had to move to several clubs for experience of first-team football. Cheltenham’s current number nine has had multiple loan moves within the EFL at clubs such as Shrewsbury Town, Oxford United and Tranmere Rovers.
However, his most successful loan prior to the Cheltenham move was at fellow League Two club Cambridge United. The Us are one of the Robins’ main contenders for automatic promotion to League One this season.
Cambridge currently sit second in the league, one point behind current table toppers Cheltenham Town. Despite the close rivalry between the two clubs, Smith revealed that playing for the likes of Tranmere and Cambridge in League One and League Two respectively helped make his decision easier when Cheltenham came calling.
He said: “I went to Tranmere initially. The manager that brought me in got sacked, so that stopped my pathway on that loan really. Cambridge was another great opportunity to get my first run of games and learn the league.
“Obviously this league is more physically demanding and a lot more direct, so it was good to get that first-hand experience of learning your trade in this league, meaning that it was a no-brainer when Cheltenham came calling.”
Smith and Cheltenham are next in action this weekend, as their promotion push continues away at Morecambe. You can follow updates on @CTFC_Official for updates during this 3pm kick-off on Saturday, to see if the Reading loanee can add to his goal tally.