PENALTY hero Paul Howarth admits he has been somewhat shell-shocked by the last week - but he is loving every minute of it. After scoring his first goal for the Reds on Saturday against Aldershot, he turned out to be the penalty hero in the shoot-out with Bournemouth.
The national media descended on him, his team-mates shouted that his job was a 'porn star' live on Sky television and the cameras came to his house on Tuesday to catch him chilling out playing his guitar.
"It has been a brilliant week. You always dream when you are a kid of scoring an important goal and doing something like that but you do wonder if it will always be a dream. I had a good feeling all week that I was going to do something in the FA Cup - and I don't know why! And because it has happened it has just been unbelievable. No one can take it away from me.
"Sky came round on Tuesday and I was playing my guitar and they did a feature on that - I felt a bit silly but you have to do it! Then my phone has never stopped ringing. One of my mates rang me from Australia, then all the people I have been at Shrewsbury with have been calling and telling me "well done".
"It was nice to get the phone calls from Shrewsbury as I didn't leave the club on the best of terms but I had a lot of mates there who felt I was good enough to stay. So in a way it is kind of sticking two fingers up at them! But I am just glad it all went well. I have seen my penalty a few times now on Sky Sports and I get more nervous watching it on tv than I did taking it!"
He admitted it was tense out there - and he didn't know why he decided to be the fifth penalty taker!
"I did wonder why I had volunteered to take the last penalty as I waited," admitted the 22-year-old. "But everyone was arguing about who was going to take the penalties and I just said 'I'm taking the last one' and walked away! It was all the younger ones - apart from Lutel - who took the penalties. Procky wanted one and even Cookey and Gordon didn't get a chance.
"But we were all confident. It was hard after 120 minutes of football and I wasn't sure that I could even kick the ball hard enough to reach the goal! But once Lutel stepped up, I knew it would be our day."
Howarth got interviewed after the game as he was trying to tell the country that he was a financial advisor, club joker Andy Gouck had other ideas.
"He shouted "Porn star" in the background and everyone else joined in and I just kind of said "yeah, porn star" live on television. It didn't matter really though! I hope they knew it was a joke."
After such a week it's time to calm down and get back to basics on Saturday for the trip to relegation-threatened Leigh RMI. But Howarth knows that there isn't any chance that the management duo of John Coleman and Jimmy Bell will let all the publicity and hype go to their heads. The main aim is the Conference play-offs and a win at Hilton Park is crucial to keeping tabs at the top of the table.
"We obviously have a lot of confidence going into any game now and we seem to be getting fitter and stronger as the season goes on. They will fancy their chances with us coming into it on the back of extra-time and all the fuss around the FA Cup.
"But we know that Leigh is a massive game if we are going to make sure we stay up there challenging for the play-offs. We need to get three points and we can't afford any slip-ups and we have got to keep our discipline.
"We have got to forget the FA Cup - although it is difficult!"