Cheltenham Town are in the hat for the FA Cup second round draw after two Alfie May goals helped the Robins beat Northern Premier League side, South Shields 3-1 on Saturday.
The win has banked over £16,972 in prize money for the League Two side, which will go some way in easing the club’s financial worries as the UK plunged into a second lockdown last week.
Michael Duff’s side could have counted themselves unlucky not to have crept into the automatic promotion places last season, as they fell behind Crewe Alexandra and Plymouth Argyle on points per game despite playing one game less.
Saturday’s FA Cup hero, May, is glad that the EFL will continue through the November lockdown.
“It’s a good thing the lockdown hasn’t shut football off,” May said.
“I don’t know where that would leave us in terms of leagues, but ourselves, we know what to do and how to cope with it, so it’s okay at the minute.
“Everything stays the same, we’re just obviously keeping a distance with each other, it’s our bubble really.”Embed from Getty Images
Cheltenham are managing a congested calendar with league duties and two cup competitions to juggle, ahead of a busy Christmas period ahead.
May believes football provides an escape from the realities of a second COVID-19 lockdown.
“You’ve got your family to talk to and football is football, when it’s Saturday, Tuesday it comes pretty fast and it’s something we’ve got got to deal with.
“Say you’ve had a bad game Saturday, you know you’ve only got a few days to wait for the next one so it’s actually alright.”
Successfully navigating a tricky first round hurdle to reach the next round of the FA Cup is vitally important for Cheltenham, even if the club can’t welcome fans back into the Jonny-Rocks Stadium to share the excitement of an FA Cup weekend.
“It’s a big shame that the fans aren’t here because on a day like this it’s a great day out,” May added.
“It would’ve been nice to have the fans here but it’s becoming a normal thing without fans.
“All my family have subscribed to iFollow, I make them pay even though we can get it for free because I want the money to go into the pocket of the club.
“So my family are paying to watch the games, we want to give back with little things like that and I think that’s what a lot of other players are doing as well.”
Cheltenham’s opponents at the weekend, South Shields had the chance to progress into the second round of the competition for the first time since 1971, but May’s ten minute opener early dampened their hopes of a historic win in Gloucestershire.
The former Doncaster Rovers forward netted his third of the campaign when he restored the hosts lead following a South Shield first half equaliser. It helped the Robins win a tenth league game in all competitions this season.
“That’s what us players try to give back to the club,” May said.
“The club has been good to us so we want to go as far as possible and in the other competition, the Leasing Trophy, it still brings in money so it’s nice to do things like that for the club.”
Cheltenham are already through to the second round of the EFL Trophy ahead of their final group stage tie against Norwich City Under-21s on Tuesday night. A win will earn the Robins a further £8,000 which is needed more than ever in the current climate.