Despite bagging himself a seven-minute hat-trick yesterday afternoon, Tom Pope was only focused on the importance of progressing to the third round of the FA Cup.
Pope led the line for the Vale yesterday afternoon, and more than repaid the gaffer by netting a stunning hat-trick, the club’s quickest since 1934. The forward stresses that even though it was great on a personal level, it was always about getting through to the third round.
However, the hat-trick became that little bit more special for Vale’s number 9 after the full-time whistle had gone, as he was informed that he had equalled club legend, Martin Foyle’s goal tally for the club, giving Pope a moment to reflect on how well he has done for the Vale.
It’s the first time the Valiants have reached this stage since 2017, and with the draw tomorrow evening, Pope says it’s a step closer to facing Stoke City.
“It’s all about the third round, it’s not about me scoring even though that’s an extra bonus for me on a personal level.
“You just think, now you put it into context because he seemed to score every week, Foyley [Martin Foyle], and that’s why you dream of being him. To have got to the same amount of goals as him, just puts into context really how well I’ve done.
“At the start of the game you’d take 1-0, don’t care who scores. Just get in the hat for the third round against one of the big boys, or dare we believe Stoke.
“As a kid I only visualised scoring against Stoke, at the Victoria Ground or wherever it was. Just Stoke, I’ll be disappointed if we get Manchester Untied away, I just want Stoke.”
After going a goal behind after just two minutes yesterday afternoon, Askey’s men had it all to if they were to qualify, and Pope emphasised the change of performance in the second-half.
The Vale eventually grew into the game towards the end of the first period, and hat-trick hero explains how the gaffer expected a quick start in the second-half, and that is exactly what he got.
Cheltenham’s Rebuen Reid was forced off in the first-half through injury, and it proved to be a blow for the Robins as the Vale backline stood firm from then on.
Even after going ahead on 62 minutes, the Vale continued to pile pressure on the Cheltenham defence, and Pope stressed how his third goal gave his side a much-needed cushion heading into the final 20 minutes.
"The gaffer told us that we needed a good start [to the second-half], we’d been poor, very sloppy, crossing wasn’t great but we did get in good areas at times.
“I thought Reuben Reid going off was a massive blow for them, he holds the ball up well and when they’ve got a lot of pace in the team like they had, we were finding it difficult on the counter attack, and when he went off Leggy [Leon Legge] and Smudge [Nathan Smith] dominated the strikers and we were massively on top.
“Every goal is a good feeling, but 2-1 up is an iffy scoreline, you know if it’s still 2-1 with 10 minutes to go, their lumping balls in it’s always nervy and I think once you you’ve got three, a two goal cushion, it’s a lot easier to see the game out.”