NLP TEAM OF THE SEASON - MURRAY & GREEN
A Winners XI - What A Side This Would Be
by STUART HAMMONDS
NLP, 19 May 2013
WE’VE handed The NLP readers’ votes out this week with the National Game Awards, as you’ll read about elsewhere in this paper.
But now it’s time for me to reward the players who have impressed me most on my travels around the Blue Square Bet Premier this season with the glory of…a cherished place in my team of the year!
And before I get pelters, I’ve limited myself to two players from any one club and it’s based solely on lads I’ve watched live.
GK: JAMES McKEOWN - Grimsby Town
Many will recall the wonderful saves he made at Wembley in the FA Trophy final against Wrexham. But I saw him pull off save after stunning save while keeping clean sheets at home to the Dragons and Forest Green, and in the goalless draw at Newport before Christmas. He could do nothing about the two County goals that accounted for his team in the play-offs, denying him the chance to end a memorable season behind the top-flight’s tightest defence in style. (Edges out: Danny Lewis - Kidderminster Harriers)
RB: LEE VAUGHAN - Kidderminster Harriers
Made the news on the final day of the season after being punched in the back of the head by a Stockport County fan, but it was Vaughan’s performances during Kidderminster’s Lazarus-like recovery that were knock-out for me. In my team for the second successive year, the ex-AFC Telford man not only defends properly - he absolutely hates letting his winger get a cross in - he is often one of Harriers’ most prominent attacking threats down the right, delivering with real quality himself. (EO: Lee Beevers - Mansfield)
CH: MARTIN RILEY - Wrexham
After the loss of Mark Creighton early on in the season, Wrexham needed a leader at the back to step forward. While many saw veteran Chris Westwood emerge as that man and he won their player of the year award, Riley was the Dragons’ defensive lynchpin in every game I saw. In the goalless draw at Luton last September he was unbeatable. (EO: Tom Bonner - Dartford)
CH: CHEY DUNKLEY - Kidderminster
Dunkley’s first season at Conference Premier level was superb, however, and although many felt Josh Gowling was their best centre-half, I reckon the more experienced player’s arrival last September brought the best out the youngster stepping up from Hednesford. Strong in the air, Dunkley was a constant threat at set-pieces but I liked his seemingly extendable legs that helped him nick the ball off his man as he was about to receive it. (EO: Shaun Pearson - Grimsby)
LB: ANDY SANDELL - Newport County
A host of quality left-backs in the top-flight this year included Neil Ashton at Wrexham, Aswad Thomas at Grimsby and Chris Stokes at Forest Green. Nine goals from the left side of defence - or wing-back after their mid-season formation switch - was a fine return from Sandell, who was arguably County’s player of the year. Set-piece specialist who drove his team forward at times. Deservedly back in the Football League after previous spells with Wycombe and Aldershot. (EO: Neil Ashton - Wrexham)
CM: KENNY DAVIS - Braintree Town
Again, several players could lay claim to the holding, or deep lying midfield role in this system, like Grimsby captain Craig Disley, Wrexham’s Dean Keates and Kiddy’s Kyle Storer. Braintree skipper Davis is the one part-time player to make it into my XI, however, because over the course of the season I’ve seen him boss games against the top sides. Davis can tackle and break play up, but he can pass a ball with the best with them. (EO: Craig Disley - Grimsby)
CM: JAY HARRIS - Wrexham
Usually you remember goals when you leave a game - and Harris has scored goal of the season contenders this season. But I remember a tackle he threw himself into with Kidderminster left-back Mickey Demetriou early on in the play-off semi-final first leg, when the ball flew 30 yards towards the Harriers’ goal. It got the Racecourse buzzing every bit as much as David Artell’s goal, and summed up his commitment.(EO: Kieron Forbes - Forest Green)
CM: ALEX LAWLESS - Luton Town
Any manager at the top of the Conference would have him in their team, in one of a variety of positions. Clever on the ball, full of energy, Lawless turned the opinions of fans who had been critical of him during 2011-12. Two things helped; first a stunning 86th-minute strike into the top corner and a quickfire second to see off Nuneaton, then the winner against Wolves in the FA Cup third round. (EO: Joe Clarke - Wrexham)
ACM: ADAM MURRAY - Mansfield Town
The champions’ captain, assistant-manager, inspiration. Matt Green got the goals, but it was Muzza the magician who grabbed games by the scruff of the neck whether playing in an advanced or deeper role. Missed the first part of the season and it’s no coincidence that Mansfield struggled then. Superb vision and a range of passing unequalled in the topflight, with Lee Fowler having gone up to the League. (EO: Christian Jolley - Newport)
S: MATT GREEN - Mansfield Town
Non-League’s player of the year gets his third promotion from the Conference - like Murray - and second successive pick in my team. He’s grown in stature over the last two seasons after finally being given the green light to lead his side’s line through the middle. Fifty-seven goals - with 27 in Stags’ championship season - show he’s ready to move up and prove himself at a higher level. (EO: Michael Gash - Cambridge/Kidderminster)
S: AARON O’CONNOR - Newport County
Justin Edinburgh kept him through the middle more and 17 goals by mid-November carried Newport to top spot. Only an injury-interrupted second half of the season prevented him reaching 30 goals. Was almost unplayable, without scoring, at home to Wrexham in the New Year. Came off the bench to net his 22nd of the season with virtually the final kick of the play-off final against them at Wembley a fortnight ago. Great season. (EO: Andre Gray - Luton)
Murray heartened to be in team of year
mansfieldtown.net 24th May 2013
Assistant manager/captain Adam Murray has told mansfieldtown.net of his pleasure at being named in Stuart Hammonds' BSBP team of the year.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/murray-heartened-to-be-in-team-of-year-834112.aspx#VCCmb5KBIe3LOQqJ.99
Hammonds, a top national reporter for the Non League Paper, named Murray in his elite 11 from last season's campaign.
Murray told mansfieldtown.net: "It's nice to be recognised by people from outside the club of the hard work which I put in last season to a high level on all fronts. I am pleased to be amongst some very good players in Stuart's XI."
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