Port Vale’s Cristian Montano has been awarded the Checkatrade Trophy Player of the Round for his performance against Stoke City U21s in Round Two of the competition.
The left-back, who joined the Valiants in 2017, scored two goals and also got an assist in a 4-0 win in front of almost 8,000 fans at Vale Park last month.
“It’s an amazing feeling getting the award,” said Montano.
“I’ve been suffering a lot with minor setbacks with injuries and being able to come back into the team and play against Yeovil first in the league and then being able to stay in the team for the Stoke game in the Checkatrade meant a lot.
“Being able to then contribute with two goals and an assist and play in such a good game in regards of the atmosphere, the fans, a derby and to win the game the way we did, it was special.”
Montano has vivid memories of both his goals, adding: “For my first goal I remember Theo Vassell made a good run down the left and I made a run across the back four hoping for him to pass me the ball.
“But he didn’t and he had a shot which the keeper saved - I was quick and reacted at the right time to get in front of the defender and managed to slot it in.
"It was a good feeling to be able to get that second goal. We were 2-0 up at the time and I just thought to myself 'I feel like I’m going to get another goal'.
“I remember for the second goal they went on the attack down my side. James Gibbons then won the ball, we broke down the right-hand side all the way to the edge of the box and I made a run for him to give me the ball.
"He didn’t pass to me and played it in to Manny Oyeleke, he then had a look and I made a run in-between the full-back and the centre back.
"He played it to me and I slotted it in nicely; it was a great feeling to get my second goal and go 3-0 up at half-time.”
Having gone on to beat Shrewsbury in Round Three, Vale have now progressed through to the Quarter-Finals of the competition.
With only two ties separating Vale and the Checkatrade Trophy Final at Wembley, the thought of playing there is something which excites Montano.
“For myself especially I’ve never played at Wembley. I’ve been to watch games and I’ve seen the atmosphere last year when I watched the Checkatrade Trophy Final.
“It was electric and we believe it’s a place that we’d like to go to as well but, at the moment, we’ve got to take it one step at a time and get through the Quarter-Finals and then it will be the Semi-Finals that we’ll have to deal with.
“We’ve just got to believe and it would be a good place to go to for us; it would be an amazing experience, not just for us, but for the fans as well.
“Obviously I was a younger player myself before and the encouragement the older players gave me to come into games like the ones that we play in this competition always gave me great experience.
“You always want to win games as well so the Checkatrade Trophy matches give younger players confidence. It also gives them a taste of what football’s about as well.
“I think it’s a good competition it’s an opportunity to get to Wembley and great experience if you get that far in the competition.”