MACRON PLAYER OF THE MONTH AWARDS
PREMIER DIVISION - RYAN COX OF BOOTLE
When Joe Doran completed the summer acquisition of Ryan Cox, the signing guaranteed one thing: goals. And the month of December has certainly seen Cox deliver, with the hot-shot forward scoring nine.
The month started with bitter disappointment for Cox's side as they bowed out of the FA Vase in the most heartbreaking manner possible, losing two late goals at Bridlington Town to lose 2-1. But despite the disappointment of Brody Robertson’s late brace, it was Cox who notched his side's only goal of the game. The forward powered a superb header in the far corner of the net after connecting with Michael Ordish's cross from the left.
In their next outing, the Bucks turned their attentions to the Macron Challenge Cup when they welcomed St Helens Town to the Delta Taxis Stadium. Despite falling behind to an early Andy Gillespie goal, Cox produced arguably the game of his life by scoring four times to help his side progress into the quarter-finals.
Even more impressive was the fact all Cox's goals came inside the six-yard-box. His first saw him coolly finish into the bottom corner of the net, before he got his second of the evening by finishing Carl Peer's teasing cross. Cox completed his hat trick when he turned home Kieran Haligan cross, before rounding off a fantastic evening's work by finishing Ste Hoy's knockdown.
Next for Cox was a trip to AFC Darwen, and the forward continued his impressive goal scoring run by collecting his side's sixth and seventh of the afternoon. With his side 5-0 up at half time, the forward made it 6 with a one-touch finish before completing his side's scoring by heading Michael Ordish's cross home.
The Bucks then suffered a somewhat surprising defeat in their next outing going down 2-0 at home to Squires Gate. What was even more surprising was that it was only the fourth time this season that the Bucks had failed to score.
However, their next league game, on Boxing Day against AFC Liverpool, was as about as dramatic as it gets. Trailing by three goals to nil, the Bucks fought back to collect all three points with Cox once again hitting a brace.
The former AFC man headed Michael Carberry's cross home from inside the six-yard-box to make it 3-2, and then in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Cox reacted quickest when Germano Mendes pushed away Josh Hamilton's free-kick, and shinned the ball home to spark wild scenes around the Delta Taxis Stadium.
The Bucks finished 2016 with another comprehensive win this time against Nelson and despite not being on the score sheet, Cox still played a big role in his side's victory by winning two first half penalties which were both coolly dispatched by Josh Hamilton.
All in all it was an excellent month for Cox who now stands on thirty goals for the season and six man of the match awards.
DIVISION ONE - ASHLEY STOTT OF DAISY HILL
Ashley continued to put in some good performances throughout the month of December, despite results and a fair amount of bad luck going against the team.
Eight goals in four starts, including a hat trick in the win at Stockport, a brace at Chadderton and Holker and a goal against high flying Chorley in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy have only further enhanced his reputation. He also won two man of the match nominations.
Standing alone now on 31 goals at the top of the Division One charts, “Stotty” has shown what a quality player and finisher he is, with the variety of different goals he scores, and the team know that they are always in with a chance in all games while he is in the starting eleven.
In addition, his all-round hold up play, work rate and linking others into play is second to none. He is a credit to the team, but also appreciates the support they give him.
When you consider his form through November saw him notch the same goals per game ratio, Stotty has shown tremendous consistency and is a deserving winner of the award for December.
REUSCH GOALKEEPER OF THE MONTH AWARDS
PREMIER DIVISION - GREG HALL OF 1874 NORTHWICH
Following a slightly tricky November for him and the team, Greg bounced back in style during December, playing in all five games and helping to keep his team in the race at the top of the League.
The first encounter of the month saw an entertaining game away at New Mills. The hosts opened the scoring with a well taken goal, when a low, dangerous cross was drilled into the net at close range, giving Greg no chance. The hosts grew in confidence and Hall had to push a low cross away to safety as New Mills attackers were closing in. New Mills’ second came from a fantastic free kick, taken just outside the area. Whilst 1874 did take control of the game, Greg needed to have his wits about him to ensure that any further danger was dealt with.
League leaders Runcorn Town were next up, with prolific striker Craig Cairns leading their line. In the opening minutes, Greg was called upon to block a shot with his feet, to keep ’74 on level pegging. 1874’s offside trap was finally sprung, with a Town player lobbing Hall from the edge of the area, however he back tracked and acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar.
In the second half, 1874’s lead was cut after Runcorn converted a penalty. They were then pegged back through an interception and great finish by Cairns. Hall needed to be at his best, when he stopped a powerful shot and then reacted quickly to save at point blank range to prevent Cairns from netting the rebound.
A tricky visit to AFC Liverpool was next up, and Greg did well to save a long-range effort in the first half. The hosts’ efforts were limited thanks to a resolute 1874 defence, backed up by Hall’s safe and confident handling. He was called upon to deal with a dangerous cross and caught a powerful header on the hour mark. The home side tried to step up a gear in search of an equaliser in the closing stages and Greg needed to be alert to any danger. This helped secure three valuable points for the Greens.
In the final game of 2016, 1874 comfortably earned three points at bottom side Cammell Laird 1907, however Hall was called upon to keep the spirited Lairds at bay, saving smartly to deny an attacker after the ball had been chipped over the 1874 defence. He kept his concentration and composure and ended the month, and year, on a high.
Greg once again proved what a reliable and talented custodian he is.
DIVISION ONE - RYAN MOSS OF SANDBACH UNITED
Ryan is an experienced goalkeeper who has spent a number of years with the club, having seen action at a higher level. He demonstrates maturity on the pitch and commands the back four with confidence.
Ryan is one of the best shot stoppers in the league and he frustrated several forwards during the month of December, saving in one on one situations numerous times. He without doubt kept the team in games during December, especially against an in-form City of Liverpool and Silsden.
With four wins from five games during the month and only four goals conceded with two clean sheets, the statistics look good, but the quality of the opposition in the fixtures for the month demonstrate the fine form Ryan showed across all the games.
The key game was his performance in the victory over City of Liverpool, where he stopped shot after shot allowing Sandbach to keep a commanding control of the game and go on to a decisive and league changing victory, when City of Liverpool were arguably the team to beat.
The month ended with the club in a play-off position at the conclusion of the year, and Ryan played a key part in achieving this, and his consistent form with 7 clean sheets in the last 12 fixtures he has played in, two of these in December, are a key factor in the team’s success.