Just as quickly as Christmas arrived it is now becoming a distant memory and the New Year countdown is well and truly underway. The festivities were fun whilst they lasted but as always they don’t last long enough. It was a case of being back to work for most and in around the county despite the weather’s best efforts, it was back to business for our local sides.
However, due to the weather of the last few weeks we were only able to chalk up another 7 games. A small number compared to other months but with the aforementioned weather and the Christmas break for us here at Severn Sport the numbers were limited. The games we saw though produced 28 goals, meaning an average of 4 goals a game. We saw 6 clean sheets in total. In fact only our first game (a 3-1 win for Fairford) saw both teams score in the game. It was a bad month for our local sides as apart from the Fairford result and a local derby in the U18s cup we actually didn’t see any of our local sides win a game, or score a goal.
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.
Saturday 2nd December – Fairford Town 3-1 Highmoor Ibis
Wednesday 6th December – Longlevens U17s 0-8 Gloucester City U18s
Saturday 9th December – Longlevens 0-3 Bracknell Town
Saturday 9th December – Gloucester City 0-2 Chelmsford City
Saturday 16th December – Tuffley Rovers 0-7 Thatcham Town
Saturday 23rd December – Bracknell Town 2-0 Brimscombe & Thrupp
Saturday 30th December – Longlevens 0-2 Thatcham Town
Due to the limited number of games we could get to the shortlist wasn’t as long as usual for the team of the month so there isn’t a public vote. However, there will be one for our team of the season so far which goes live tomorrow. Keep your eyes peeled for that one. Now let’s get at it.
Goalkeeper – Ash Wintle (Longlevens)
Being honest, up until about 16:30 today Tuffley Rovers stopper Kane Winman was in the team. Ash Wintle though makes the cut after producing one of the best goalkeeping performances I have seen this season. He kept Shane Cooper-Clark and the rest of the Thatcham Town attack force at bay for over 75 minutes, before being beaten twice late on. He kept Longlevens in the game with a succession of saves that were not only athletic but they were confidence injecting. At points Longlevens were under a lot of pressure and looked like they would wobble but their stopper kept confidence high and capped off a superb defensively display with some important saves. Wintle rightly takes his place in the team of the month for the second time this season.
Right Back – Sam Hill (Tuffley Rovers)
Sam Hill has made the team three times this season and has made it into the starting XI two months in a row. He is one of the most consistent players I have seen this season and continues to astound those in attendance with his ability to go forward as well as being hard to beat at the back. Each time I watch him I notice another dynamic to his game that I hadn’t either noticed or considered before. Against Thatcham it was how vocal he was. Tuffley have had to adapt this season in all areas but in particularly in defence. Hill helped his side stay together and disciplined in the first hour or so before Thatcham scored a few on the break. I will be asked how I can put a player who lost 7-0 in the team of the month and the answer is simple. Four goals were scored in the final 20 minutes or so when Tuffley decided to go for it completely and because he was at the heart of Tuffley’s attacks in the game. Can Hill make it a hattrick next month? Who knows!
Centre Back – Luke Kavanagh (Longlevens)
Throughout the season Longlevens have had to chop and change their defence around due to injuries, unavailability and suspensions. The one constant (apart from illness) has been Luke Kavanagh. He showed his versatility in the two games this month and was impressive in both roles. When Ed Smyllie is on the pitch he is less vocal it seems and he allows Ed to take seniority over loose balls, over tracking of runners and allows his partner to get on with it. In today’s game against Thatcham Smyllie was taken off injured and Kavanagh had to change roles. He was partnered by Craig Martin, a man who is a law upon himself. Kavanagh had to become their senior figure who became methodical with his approach. Kavanagh defended extremely well in both games this month and is becoming more disciplined….especially when Severn Sport are in attendance.
Centre Back – Chris Greenhough (Brimscombe & Thrupp)
If you were to watch Brimscombe & Thrupp play you will hear the unmistaken call of “GREENHOUGH” every time a ball is pumped into their half. This man mountain of a defender wins almost everything and he has done on every occasion I have seen Brimscombe play. Against Bracknell he was captain marvel. He and Christian Turner have a quite formidable partnership at the back and they continue to be an impressive duo. Bracknell are one of the best sides in the league and they won the game thanks to bundling a corner in through the keeper and a 30 yard rocket into the top corner. They were restricted to those goals by an unreal defensive display. Greenhough, as captain has that extra layer of responsibility and he lead his troops into battle and lead by example for 90 minutes. Mr Reliable strikes again.
Left Back – Jack Byard (Longlevens)
How to describe Jack Byard? He is a tryer. Not particularly tall, not particularly strong but he is a great little player but one so young. Byard isn’t a player who would be described as one whose name is first on the team sheet but he is the type of player who will give you everything and leave it on the pitch. Byard enjoyed a very good Christmas period for Longlevens and capped it today against Thatcham. He was solid, good on the ball and his work rate is exceptional. Over the season I have noticed he is becoming a lot more confident in his ability and is becoming more and more vocal. The latter is due to the former as he now has the confidence to dictate play as well as the ability to back it up. He is a player who learns by the game. I found out today that he and Brad Vanstone leave the UK for 6 months. The both are going to be huge misses for Longlevens!
Right Midfield – Dom Kent (Gloucester City U18s)
Dom Kent usually plays on the left for the Young Tigers but in the recent cup game against Longlevens he found himself in a fluid three so spent a lot of the game on the right hand side. He was sensational on the night. One of the top players on the field and this is no one off. Kent has a big future in the game, especially locally. He is one who catches the eye everytime I have watched Gloucester City U18s. In the FA Youth Cup tie with Oxford United in November he produced a glorious 50 yard diagonal ball to Logan Roach for City’s goal and against Longlevens he scored one….realistically he could have scored 8 on his own! Another one of Mustoe’s young men earning a spot in the team of the month.
Centre Midfield – Cam Williams (Gloucester City U18s)
Like I need an excuse to put Williams in the team of the month! Well, the man who has turned out for both the Young Tigers and Tuffley Rovers this year always impresses me. Even in games were he isn’t at his best he still produces moments that amaze the fans and raises his stock. A gifted young man who has the temperament similar to Manchester United winger Anthony Martial in that he is so laid back he makes it all look so easy. Nothing bothers him. He had one of his best performances in front of Severn Sport at Saw Mills and grabbed a very, very well taken goal. Like Dom Kent he was part of a fluid three and he tormented the Longlevens back line for 90 grueling minutes. The first appearance in the team of the month and I am sure it won’t be his last.
Centre Midfield – Jonty Welch (Longlevens)
Welch is the fourth Longlevens player to earn his way into the team of the month, but he is the first to have already been on the radar prior to today’s fixture against Thatcham Town. Welch received man of the match from me on the day because he controlled the midfield for the majority of the game and he has added an extra level to his work rate, thus improving his all round game. Today he was imperious in the middle of the park and it occurred to me just how easy and effortless he makes breaking the play up look. After an injury to Ryan Dunn early in the game, Welch was partnered in the middle by Dave Rich and that seemed to give Welch the assurance to play his game. He is a classy midfielder who plays the box-to-box role very well. If you look at the other local sides in the Hellenic Premier Welch isn’t matched throughout the other sides for his said workrate, for his ability to control a game without really trying or for his ability to turn defence into attack at the drop of a hat.
Left Midfield – Warren Mann (Tuffley Rovers)
After being overlooked for a starting place in previous teams of the month Warren Mann takes his place after producing a performance of grit, determination and quality in equal measure against Thatcham Town. Despite the result he caused them a lot of trouble and supported the likes of Shayne Bradley and Ashley Bird going forward. Mann is becoming more and more important to Rovers (if possible!) and is one of the first names on the team sheet if he is fit. He is a larger than life character for a shorter man and he causes defences all sorts of trouble at home and away. He is one of those players who you would love to have in your team but by god, you would hate to play against. He nibbles at you, he digs at you, he is in the referee’s ear and for all intensive purposes on a wind up for 90 minutes. But Mann can back it all up and has the great ability to put the ball in the back of the net. A welcome addition to the starting XI this month.
Striker – Harrison Reeves (Brimscombe & Thrupp)
Reeves played for Brimscombe in a number 10 role so that is why I have named him as a striker here. He did drop back as the game wore on but he pushed up at the earliest opportunity throughout the second half. But, he definitely started as number 10. It was the first time I saw Reeves play and I was so impressed. For a smaller and younger man he was holding off 6 ft defenders, he was winning balls in the air, being heavy in the tackle and had quality on the ball. Honestly, his composure on the ball was out of this world at points it really was. He was carving out opportunities for fun and was a thorn in the side of the Bracknell town defenders throughout the game. I heard that he had an equally good showing against Tuffley on Boxing Day and I am not surprised to hear that. Sam Prior & the Brimscombe boys have a real gem in the making here in young Harrison Reeves.
Striker – Lee Smith (Fairford Town)
I am sat here a whole 4 weeks after Fairford vs Highmoor Ibis and I still don’t quite know how I didn’t see a Lee Smith hattrick. When you watch football you sometimes see players in a game and think that they are too good to be playing in that game. This match was one of those occasions. For long spells in the second half especially there is a distinct lack of quality on and off the ball but for one exception, Lee Smith. He scored two goals that he has been scoring all of his career, poachers’ goals in and around the 6 yard box and latching onto mistakes. What continues to surprise me, yeah I’m going to say that, it actually surprises me and that is his work rate. A lot of people have said to me when discussing local football about how Lee Smith used to be good or Lee Smith is probably only at Fairford for the money. Well, after seeing some of his performances this season and in particular his showing against Highmoor I can tell you that his work rate hasn’t dropped at any point. He ran for 90 minutes and pretty much dragged Fairford over the finish line….and that is not the for the first time or last time this season!
As always there are three substitutes and a manager to lead this strong and powerful team into battle. The subs are as follows:
Noah Smerdon (Gloucester City U18s)
Shayne Bradley (Tuffley Rovers)
John Evans (Brimscombe & Thrupp)
The manager of the month was difficult due to the fact that all of our sides lost that we watched. So what I did was look at surrounding factors and other results. After much deliberation the nod goes to Fairford Town manager Jody Bevan. Not only did we witness a Fairford win but we saw him score a goal and lead his team by example. At the time Fairford were on a run of two wins in a row and were desperately looking for that hattrick of wins. They got it and have put in performances since that would suggest they are much harder to beat.
So that is everyone set. The starting XI. The subs and the manager. Here is the XI in full:
Now we have our December TOTM set we will be launching our fan vote ahead of announcing our team of the season so far. We will be asking you to vote for your left back out of the five left backs that have now appeared in our team of the month’s. Check back tomorrow and on our Twitter for more information.