MACRON PLAYER OF THE MONTH AWARDS
PREMIER DIVISION – ZACK DALE OF BARNOLDSWICK TOWN
Entering the month of April, Barlick had lost a few games towards the end of March, but a Top 10 finish was the target, and Zack knew he was in with a chance of the leading goalscorer award for the league, so wanted to end his season on a high.
Up first for Zack was a home fixture against Northwich Victoria, and Zack's first goal came just before half time when he was played clean through by Ethan Kershaw and finished coolly past the Northwich keeper.
Zack's second goal of the game came in the second where he finished crossing the ball over the keeper into the top corner, making that his 37th goal of the season for Barnoldswick Town.
The next game was a trip to 1874 Northwich, where Town were without a number of players due to injury and suspensions. Zack played this game a little deeper than normal and pulling the strings for Town, and one of his through balls gave James Hughes a one on one with the keeper. There were chances for both sides in a goalless first half, but the game ended in a 2-0 defeat although Zack and the team didn’t give up fighting.
The next fixture against Congleton at home began well with Zack opening the scoring. Although Congleton eventually won 6-1, Zack did not stop all game and gained himself Man of the Match.
Up next was a trip to Ashton Athletic, and after losing the last 3 fixtures, Zack and the team went to Ashton really wanting the 3 points and to get back to winning ways. Zack scored 2 of Barlick’s 3 goals in a 3-0 win, gaining the team a well-deserved 3 points and another man of the match award for Zack.
A Bank Holiday Derby day defeat against Silsden was followed by the last and final fixture of the season, at home against Abbey Hey, where Zack rounded off a great month and season with a hat trick.
With three man of the match awards and eight goals during the month, which ended with him earning the title of the league’s leading scorer for the season, Zack is a worthy winner of the award for April.
DIVISION ONE NORTH – BRADLEY HUBBOLD OF HOLKER OLD BOYS
Bradley played all four games in April which saw him pick up two goals and three MOM’s.
The first game of April was a 2-1 defeat away to Nelson. After going 2-0 down, Holker started to fight back, Brad getting an assist and was looking more and more dangerous before he picked up a knock which forced him to be substituted.
The next two games were home games versus Chadderton and AFC Blackpool, where two victories for the Stags ensured they will be playing in the NWCFL next season.
In the 3-0 win versus Chadderton, Bradley contributed two assists and showed his attacking qualities of link up play, driving runs and clever movement to help the team get onto the front foot. Without the ball, he set the tempo with his desire to win back possession with his high intensity pressing.
The next game against AFC Blackpool produced another outstanding win for the Stags with Brad scoring two goals in the 5-0 victory. Early signs indicated Brad and Holker were carrying on where they left off against Chadderton.
The team pressed and were rewarded with an early two goal lead before Brad made it 3-0. His rifled strike found the top corner with the goalkeeper left standing. His second goal of the game was of a different nature. A quick interchange with team mate Jamie Mellen dragged the opposition defender out of position and Brad quickly exploited the space left in behind, latching on to the inch perfect return ball before calmly slotting the ball around the onrushing keeper.
Brad received the Man of the Match award for both performances.
Holker then travelled to Longridge Town knowing relegation wasn’t possible, but still determined to end the season on a high.
The Stags again set the tempo in the first half, taking the game to their opponents who found it difficult to break them down. Brad showed his quality against better opposition, being composed on the ball and producing driving runs into the opposition half. Longridge nominated Bradley for MOM, his 6th out of 11 games.
Brad has scored 3 goals for Holker this season since his return, but is more known for his assists and creativity as well as dominating displays, and he made an important contribution during the month of April in the team’s fight against relegation.
DIVISION ONE SOUTH – MAX DIXON OF ALSAGER TOWN
Max only turned 17 in December and registered for Alsager three days before the registration deadline for the current season as a striker. Because of his age, it was the intention to give him a couple of minutes at the end of the games to help him make the transition into adult football.
However, due to player availability, Max didn’t have the chance to gradually get into the games, and his first start was at Cammell Laird 1907 on a cold Tuesday night where he was thrown into the deep end from the opening whistle as a striker. You would never have believed he was only 17 and he gave the more experienced players from Lairds a night they wouldn’t forget, thus getting his first Man of the Match Nomination.
On the following Saturday the Bullets were away again, this time to Cheadle Heath Nomads and again due to player availability and being short on numbers, the manager asked Max if he could play at full back. Being a young player he said he would give it a go, and once again got his second Man of the Match nomination. Because of his performances he was automatically named for the two games over Easter.
On the final game of the season at St Martins, Alsager were down to the bare bones due to illness and injuries. This time Max was asked to play centre half and you would have thought he had years of experience, as he was head and shoulders above anyone else on the park, thus getting his third Man of the Match nomination.
With Max’s attitude and commitment he is going to have a big future in the game – and everyone at the club wishes he had signed earlier in the season!
REUSCH GOALKEEPER OF THE MONTH AWARDS
PREMIER DIVISION – RYAN JONES OF BOOTLE
With three clean sheets in four games, Bootle goalkeeper Ryan Jones continued his impressive form in the month of April.
Fresh from being named Goalkeeper of the Month for March, Jones helped his side kick off the month with an emphatic 5-0 win over Charnock Richard.
Despite the comprehensive scoreline, Jones produced two fine saves at two crucial stages of the game to help his side to victory.
First, with his side leading 1-0, the stopper produced a superb block to deny Carl Grimshaw, and then with his side now 2-0 up, the former AFC Liverpool man somehow pushed away a Grimshaw header that looked destined for the bottom corner.
Next up for Jones and his side was a trip to Blackpool to take on Squires Gate, and once again the stopper played a huge part in his side’s victory.
With his side second best in the first-half, Jones made three outstanding stops to keep the score level - with his save from Adam Summer’s effort the pick of the bunch.
Just two days later, Jones’ side faced off against City of Liverpool, and despite being largely untested throughout, the stopper produced a commanding display to help his side to victory.
Jones and his side brought the curtain down on their season with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Northwich Victoria.
Not only did the draw bring an end to the Bucks’ 20-game winning run, but also saw the Purps pip Joe Doran’s side to title.
But despite the set-back, Jones could do nothing to prevent the Vics goal - and was largely faultless throughout, rounding off the month and the season with another composed performance.
DIVISION ONE NORTH – JORDAN LATHAM OF AVRO
Jordan turned 20 during April, played in all eight games during the month, and managed to maintain his excellent record of at least one clean sheet every month as he kept out Cleator Moor Celtic at the Vestacare Stadium.
He showed consistency throughout the months, but saved the best until last, earning the MOM award in the final game at AFC Liverpool. Although the game ended in a 1-0 defeat that eventually cost Avro the First Division North title, Jordan had a magnificent game.
In the second half he made several special saves that he really had no right to get anywhere near, as he denied AFC Liverpool time and again as they pressed in search of a win and an FA Cup place.
Jordan showed composure and maturity way beyond his years as he played in every game of the club’s gruelling programme in the final month of the season, not letting his high standards drop in spite of what was a tough fixture list to complete.
DIVISION ONE SOUTH – GRAEME McCALL OF RYLANDS
Graeme was once again brilliant during April, playing his part in a run of five games in which the team recorded five wins.
The month started with a difficult home game against Cammel Laird 1907. The game was a very close and tight affair with chances at a premium, and Graeme made a fantastic save early on, rushing off his line to stop what seemed like a certain goal to ensure the teams stayed level.
Just before the break, Graeme's quick thinking and distribution resulted in a shot on goal which was well saved from his opposing number. The resulting corner produced the only goal of the game.
The second half was similar to the first with Graeme being called into action on a couple of occasions, the last of which was deep into stoppage time following a long delay where he came off his line to claim a long ball into the box. He was once again there when his team needed him most, relieving the pressure on the defence and helped ensure the three points.
The second game of the month was a challenging trip to Stone Old Alleynians. It was a game where the team knew a win would ensure they couldn't be caught and the league title would be coming to Gorsey Lane at the first attempt.
This is where Graeme came into his own, not just on the pitch but leading up to the game. With an average age of 24 across the squad, Graeme ensured he sat with a number of the younger players on the coach on the way to the game and reassured them that this was just another game.
During the game Graeme made two excellent saves in the first half, one of which was world class when he literally clawed a ball out of the top corner after it had all but gone past him, with the Stone attacker already starting to celebrate. The most important part of the save was the time of the game in which it happened at 0-0, and had the effort gone in it was potentially a different game.
From there the team went on to win the game comfortably in the end by 5-0, and confirm Rylands FC as 1st Division South Champions.
Next up was a home game against Maine Road and what felt like a bit of a party atmosphere leading up to the game. This was largely due to winning the league away to Stone on the Saturday and knowing the trophy was to be presented after this game, but Graeme helped ensure that the team remained focused on the task in hand and firmly put any celebrations on the back burner until after the game.
Graeme's performance was excellent, particularly early on with a number of key saves and quality goalkeeping, including successfully saving an early penalty that was awarded to Maine Road.
The fourth game of the month was another home game this time against Sandbach, game that was played in horrendous weather. The wind and rain tried its best to ruin what would have been an even better game between two very good sides looking to play football the right way.
The first half was very difficult with the team struggling to get out of their own half against the wind. Graeme made a number of good saves and came off his line well on a couple of occasions to help relieve the pressure that was building as the half progressed.
The most impressive aspect of Graeme's goalkeeping in this game was his ability to judge the flight of the ball in the difficult conditions and come and claim numerous crosses and corners. Knowing that Graeme is behind them gives the defenders so much more confidence to be able to see difficult periods of games out without conceding.
The last game of the month was another huge game as Rylands travelled to AFC Darwen's ground to take on Longridge Town in the 1st Division Champions Cup Final.
Playing against a side that had eclipsed Rylands’ 111 league goals by scoring 144 of their own, you could be forgiven for expecting to see a high scoreline with goals aplenty for both sides. Graeme all but ensured that the only team that would be scoring on the evening would be his.
He demonstrated every aspect of goalkeeping by organising his defence, claiming crosses and corners, coming off his line to sweep and producing a number of fantastic saves. He saved the best save of the night for last. In the dying stages of the game with the team 3-0 and the club’s name already being etched onto the trophy, Longridge created an opportunity for a consolation goal following a brilliant defence splitting ball.
The onrushing forward seemed certain to score, but Graeme produced a world class save to keep Longridge at bay and ensure his fifth and final clean sheet of the month.
Graeme's ability is rivalled only by his commitment and attitude. He's a leader on and off the pitch and will always go the extra mile to help anyone. His record speaks for itself, five clean sheets in five games this month taking his season tally to 25 clean sheets for the season, which is an unbelievable achievement at any level of the game.
He has played a major part in the club’s debut double winning season.