Severn Sport Team Of The Month – November

Well, what a month November was. I had my 26th birthday, Matt got a new car and Kelsey…well Kelsey made a big decision in stepping away from Gloucester City. It was a pretty crazy month! But what was also crazy, was the high quality level of action we witnessed whilst covering our local sides. But November is now over and the festive season is now in full swing so that means two things, one, Christmas is coming and two, its time for the November Team Of the Month!!

November saw us chalk up 12 games, a whopping number! This included an away trip in Buckinghamshire, an away trip to Chesham and also commentated our first ever women’s match (coincidently my 50th game). So lets take a quick look at the stats for the month.

In November we witnessed just the 2 clean sheets out of the 12 games. In those games we saw 37 goals, averaging 3.08 goals per game. We visited 10 different venues and saw a whole host of action. An incredible month for us. Well that is the statistics over with and now its time for the team of the month.

As always, the difference between the Severn Sport Team Of The Month and other similar awards is that we pick players who excelled and performed in Severn Sport live matches. So let’s take a quick look at the games we covered and the games we had to choose players from.

Wednesday 1st November – Longlevens 4-0 Fairford Town
Thursday 2nd November – Gloucester City U18s 1-2 Oxford United U18s (AET)
Friday 3rd November – Tuffley Rovers 2-1 Oxford City Nomads
Saturday 4th November – Bishops Cleeve 1-1 Slimbridge
Wednesday 8th November – Fairford 1-2 Royal Wootton Bassett (AET)
Saturday 11th November – Cirencester 1-2 Wimborne Town
Tuesday 14th November – Bishops Cleeve 2-3 Evesham United
Tuesday 14th November – Flackwell Heath 2-1 Lydney Town
Saturday 18th November – Thatcham Town 2-1 Longlevens
Sunday 19th November – Cheltenham Town Ladies 1-0 Forest Green Ladies
Tuesday 21st November – Yate Town 2-2 Cinderford
Saturday 25th November – Chesham United 2-1 Gloucester City

Now before we see who made the cut I just need to remind you all that after last month’s successful introduction of a fans poll we have run it once again. If you missed it last month, we opened an online poll for you, our fans to vote for our goalkeeper in October’s Team of The Month. This month, it was open on our website and you had the choice of 5 Left Backs to choose from. The left back position was one that we witnessed a high level of performance in and was so  hard to even narrow down for a shortlist let alone pick one. The shortlist was Ellis Sausman (Longlevens), Adam Mace (Slimbridge), Mason Hathaway (Fairford Town), Ellis Dunton (Cirencester Town) & Logan Roach (Gloucester City U18s). The winner will be revealed in due course so lets dive in and get started!

Goalkeeper – Thom Jonkerman (Cirencester Town)

All you need to know regarding this performance is what I wrote in my Top 10 games of the season this past week: Thom Jonkerman for Cirencester had up until the last minute the best goalkeeping performance I have seen this season. I still label it as such despite the winning goal. It’s 1-1, about 89 minutes gone. Jonkerman is rounded and Wimborne are going to win it. But wait, Mason Lewis somehow blocks the shot off the line with his hip and Jonkerman dives on it. The draw beckons. But Jonkerman rolls the ball down to kick it without seeing the Wimborne striker behind him, the ball is squared and hearts are broken. The drama. The heartbreak. Jonkerman had saved a penalty earlier on and without him Cirencester could have let in 5 or 6. He will learn from this experience but what I learned was that Thom Jonkerman is one hell of a keeper!

Right Back – Sam Hill (Tuffley Rovers)

Sam Hill makes his second appearance in the Team of The Month after appearing in August. His level of performance hasn’t changed since I started watching him. He is exceptional. He is a great asset to have in your side as he is as good as he is going back and that is a rare commodity to have this day and age. Usually full backs tend to be better at either defending or attacking, for me Hill is exceptional all round. The amount of chances that come from his right boot – especially at Glevum Park, is frightening. Tuffley went on an unbeaten streak in the league of 7 games this month, he is one of the reasons why. If I was naming a team of the season so far, he would definitely be in it! There is a special mention for the other man on the shortlist for right back, Longlevens defender Ryan Dunn, who narrowly missed out.

Centre Back – Ed Smyllie (Longlevens)

I saw Longlevens play twice this month and for me Smyllie was the best player across those two games. After the defensive display I witnessed against Fairford back on the 1st all four of the Longlevens defenders made the shortlist straight away. Smyllie cemented his place in the Team Of the Month after a superb performance against Thatcham Town. He and Adam Phillips were sensational throughout and if it wasn’t for the performance against Fairford then Phillips would be in the team ahead of Ed but the consistency he has shown this month makes him a worthy candidate for the November team. He also committed my favourite foul of the month as he flew in against Thatcham right on the touchline after the Thatcham winger had injured Jack Byard…a proper team player some would say!

Centre Back – Matt Williams (Evesham United)

I will be completely honest here, I do not know an awful lot about Williams’ performance but then again I don’t need to. Any defender who scores two goals in a month, let alone a game will always be considered. No but all seriousness Kelsey De Maria put forward Williams this month and I obviously listen to the rest of the team so he is in. Williams is a very good centre back and after seeing him a couple of times this season myself I know how important he is for Evesham United. Having interviewed him during the summer he is a shy guy who is humble and that is the kind of spirit I want in my team!

*A brief note that other than these two centre backs and Longlevens’ Adam Phillips the shortlist also included Mason Lewis of Cirencester Town and Ben Saunders at Fairford but I felt this partnership complimented each other perfectly.*

Left Back – Ellis Dunton  (Cirencester Town)

As you can see Ellis Dunton won the fans poll! And what a worthy winner. We received nearly 250 votes and he received over 50% of the votes. Ellis was a part of a back 5 that put in one of the most competitive and committed defensive displays I have seen this season. Ellis was composed on the ball as he always is when I see the Centurions play and leapt like the proverbial salmon to score the then equaliser. On commentary at the time I said that if there was one player who deserved a goal it was Dunton. His work rate and endeavor  shone through and it proves why he is considered one of the most reliable players at any of our local Southern League sides. A very worthy addition to the team here who provides strength, poise yet quality and class. His experience would enrich any team.

Right Midfield – Josh Bennai (Lydney Town)

I am delighted to not only name the first ever Lydney Town player into the team of the month but to also name Bennai into the side. He played right wing against Flackwell Heath and it was a different position than I am used to seeing of him. I had seen Bennai play in the centre of midfield a number of times but it was a first on that cold Tuesday night in Flackwell Heath. Bennai was superb. He was at the heart of everything Lydney did in the first hour of the game and set up the then equaliser. He set the bench mark very high for right wing performance for the month of November and I do have to say two players nearly matched or exceeded his level, Blaine Waugh at Cinderford & Liam Gale at Fairford, but Bennai takes it this month. Not only did he have a storming game in front of my eyes but he went on to score his first goal for Lydney during November too. A very welcome addition.

Central Midfield – Courtney Hamilton (Tuffley Rovers)

Tuffley were superb against Oxford City Nomads back at the beginning of the month and one of the most impressive aspects of their play was their work rate. For me, one man epitomised this work rate and that was Courtney Hamilton. I am pretty sure he didn’t stop running all game, I genuinely mean that. You hear clichés like that all the time but I assure you he must have been running for a good 90% of the 90 minutes. Frightening! He broke the play up well, he was physical and at points bullied a very good footballing midfield that Nomads possess. He was one of the first names on the team sheet when I was writing this because the performance stood out that much.

Central Midfield – Dan Reynolds (Fairford Town)

For 120 minutes at Cinder Lane back in the middle of November I witnessed one of the best central midfield performances for many a season. Dan Reynolds absolutely ran the show in the middle third and was so unlucky to come out on the losing side. He, like Courtney Hamilton, broke the play up so well and he was so physical. The bullish nature of this central midfield partnership is astonishingly powerful. Reynolds was winning headers, fighting for challenges all over the pitch as well as linking up with forwards Liam Gale & Lee Smith. It isn’t the first time Reynolds had turned in an eye-catching performance but this time it was a performance that would have been criminal to ignore. Superb!

*Other central midfielders who made the shortlist include Longlevens’ Dave Merrick, Lydney’s Kerry Hale & Slimbridge captain Jack Twyman.*

Left Midfield – Shaun O’Connor (Longlevens)

Well it has finally happened. Shaun O’Connor has made the full XI. Not the bench, not the special mentions but the full XI. He is a team player yet a superstar all on his own. He has scored a couple of goals in front of us this season that would be contenders for Match Of The Day’s Goal of the Season had they been scored in the Premier League. His strike against Thatcham was from as far out as 35/36 yards. He has the audacity but also the ability to not only try a strike like that but to execute it….pretty ironic considering he has struggled from 12 yards this season. But anyway, he will enjoy the fact that he isn’t overlooked this month and I have to be honest, the way he is going this will not be the last time he appears in the XI.

*Other left midfielders considered were Lydney’s Frankie Johnson, Cinderford’s Sammie Hicks, Cirencester’s Tommy Anderson & O’Connor’s team mate Myron Turner. So just by looking at that list you can see just how competitive the shortlist was. A list of very good players with bags of ability. *

Striker – Craig Norman (Cinderford Town)

The first striker to make the team is Cinderford front man Craig Norman. In the 2-2 draw he was absolutely phenomenal. I mean it. Utterly sensational. He scored the second equaliser and created the first equaliser (which we credited as a Blaine Waugh goal and not an own goal). He won everything in the air, whether it was inside the box, outside the box, in his own half. He was the kingpin in the attack and when players like Waugh, Hicks and Bamford were linking up and off him he made the link up play look easy. I paint a picture of pure finesse to Norman’s play but he was also a bully. He was strong, powerful and physical and a pretty good Yate side couldn’t handle him. A rightful choice in the team of the month. What a performance!

Striker – Shayne Bradley (Tuffley Rovers)

The trifecta of Tuffley players is complete. And if you haven’t realised by now, this has to be one of the most physical local sides ever assembled! Shayne Bradley in the month of November has been flawless. He has turned back the years, and I seriously don’t mean that to patronise or offend but he has played with the physicality and footballing ability of a man 10 years his youth, yet with the experience of an ex-professional. His goal scoring run this month is testament to the hard work and dedication he has put in to not jut his football but his overall fitness. His winner against Oxford City Nomads was all about two things, one being in the right place at the right time and two, instinct. The instinct to peel off his man and pull off a diving header to perfection. He went on to score a couple of really important goals for Tuffley in the unbeaten streak and is fast becoming one of the most feared strikers in the Hellenic Premier once again….and he is also the player who has appeared in the Team Of The Month in some form the most (3 appearances). He is getting better with age, like a sweet yet dry wine….you know those wines that make you cough they are so dry…yeah that….

*Other strikers who made the shortlist were Brad Martin of Longlevens and Elliot Kennedy of Bishops Cleeve. All four men played incredibly well in front of us and it was such a hard decision on who to leave out. But that is a positive, it shows the quality that Gloucestershire boasts.*

As always there are three substitutes and a manager to lead this strong and powerful team into battle. Beginning with the subs I wanted to pay homage to the ladies on show at Whaddon Road a couple of Sundays ago. I felt it was fitting to name an all female bench but most importantly we are naming the first women in the Severn Sport Team of the Month. The chosen three are:

Kayleigh Hateley (Cheltenham Town Ladies)
Ashleigh Watson (Forest Green Ladies)
Bec Panniers (Cheltenham Town Ladies) –
A sidenote, Panniers is also the first goalkeeper to be named on the bench of the team of the month.

In terms of a manager I have mentioned a couple of times above that Tuffley Rovers went on a 7 game unbeaten streak in the Hellenic Premier, so for that reason the manager of the month is Mark Pritchett. The Rovers resurrection has been eye catching including that win over Oxford City Nomads. A Nomads side who have turned it on a few times this season and they were hustled and harried off the park by Tuffley. Pritchett through a shortage of players, initially, made the decision to switch Joel White into a centre back role. The partnership of Macaulay Herbet and Joel White puts two of my favourite local players together and the results he is getting from them speaks volumes. I think Tuffley have benefitted from Shayne Bradley’s return to fitness and form and to think their first choice keeper and captain, Dave Evans has been out for a while with a hand injury. They have bounced back incredibly and long may it continue. The return of Danny Wallington in the centre of the park can be vital going into the festive period as I feel they play better with him on the field.

So, we have the XI, we have our substitutes and now we have our manager. That’s the November team taken care of I’d say. Here is the XI in full:

Who will make the side for December? Find out at the end of the month as we decipher the 6 games that we will be covering (potentially more to be confirmed). The month’s festivities begin with Fairford Town vs Highmoor Ibis tomorrow afternoon at Cinder Lane. We will have live updates on our Twitter & Facebook via the Goalshouter app w/ Ryan Butler.