Severn Sport Team of The Month – January

Well. January felt like it went on forever didn’t it? Finally it is the turn of the month tomorrow and February will be amongst us after one more night’s sleep. Hopefully the new month will bring better weather whilst continuing the high quality football we have seen this season.

The games we covered ended up being different to those advertised due to one of the wettest months I’ve seen for years. It ultimately affected the amount of games we could cover, yet saying that we still got 7 riveting games under our belts.

In the 7 games we saw 4 clean sheets as well as seeing 24 goals at 3.42 goals a game. We covered  7 different teams in 3 leagues and two cups, so the variety of games we have covered is still evident.

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.

Monday 1st January – Oxford City 0-3 Gloucester City
Saturday 6th January – Brackley Town Saints 0-1 Longlevens
Tuesday 9th January – Tuffley Rovers 1-2 Brimscombe & Thrupp
Saturday 13th January – Longlevens 2-0 Highmoor Ibis
Wednesday 17th January – Slimbridge 2-0 Winchester City
Tuesday 23rd January – Cirencester Development 7-3 Tuffley Rovers
Saturday 27th January – Slimbridge 1-2 Bishops Cleeve

*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.*

Goalkeeper – Ollie Hall (Slimbridge)

Hall will not be too pleased to see his name here as at times he can be his harshest critic. But he makes the cut after a superb performance at home to Winchester City. He was struggling with a groin injury and was limited in his movement but he still kept a clean sheet…under a fair bit of pressure towards the end too. He was having to deal with a lot of crosses swung right underneath his crossbar that would have tested a 100% Ollie Hall but he showed his quality time and time again.

Close behind Hall was Ash Wintle who nearly stormed to the team of the month by keeping two clean sheets, including away at Brackley Town Saints where he played out of his skin.

Right Back – Olly Butler (Bishops Cleeve)

Olly Butler is in the team after impressing me once again. This time away at Slimbridge Butler produced two game winning clearances within about a minute of each other! To have the presence of mind to get back onto the goalline once is great defending but to do it twice is sensational. Add that to the fact he was up against Marley Thomas and kept him so quiet that Thomas ended up being moved to the right to find some joy. That fact alone shows just how quality he is.

Centre Back – Korey Pring (Slimbridge)

Before I went and watched Slimbridge vs Winchester I had been told about the improvement Pring had shown over recent weeks. It was well documented that The Swans were struggling but with the returning Tom Hoskins it was apparent that Pring grew in confidence due to having a consistent partner at the back. Pring shone as all of the Swans defenders did against Winchester and not only scored a goal against Bishops Cleeve, he also made an incredible last ditch tackle that at the time kept Slimbridge in the game.

Centre Back – Adam Phillips (Longlevens)

Adam Phillips makes the team for Longlevens after two great performances that resulted in two clean sheets. Having played a lot of football for the seconds this term he has been ever so reliable for Mark Moore and his side. He has consistently been a stand out and adds stability to the back line. His chemistry with Luke Kavanagh is there and his positioning has become exceptional. Phillips nearly scored a literal worldie too against Highmoor Ibis. He side stepped and shimmied on the edge of the box before firing over…it would have been some goal.

Left Back – Adam Mace (Slimbridge)

Mace comfortably takes the left back slot after a superb display against Winchester and a decent outing against Bishops Cleeve. Mace broke the deadlock in the first match with a great free kick that literally went into the postage stamp of the keeper’s top left hand side. It was perfect, as was his performance throughout the 90 minutes. He grew in confidence as the game went on and was getting up and down the left hand side as easy as you’d like. Jack Watts made it a tougher game against Bishops Cleeve but he was blameless in the two goals and had an okay showing.

Right Midfield – Brett James (Tuffley Rovers)

Since covering local football in Gloucestershire never have I seen a man score two scorchers in a game and still lose. That was until we went to the Corinium for Cirencester Development vs Tuffley Rovers. Whilst the rest of his side struggled to make any mark on the game James tried his upmost to haul Rovers back into the cup tie, not once but twice. The first was a 25 yarder that arrowed into the top corner from the left hand side whilst the second was a simple cut in and curl into the top right hand corner. He also looked dangerous against Brimscombe earlier in the month.

Central Midfield – Chris Knowles (Gloucester City)

Last season it was apparent how important Chris Knowles was to Gloucester City. In the middle of the park he is a kingpin and makes Gloucester tick. For a “shorter player” he is physical and competitve and chips in with more than his fair share of goals. Away at Oxford City he broke the deadlock with a header as he jumped up in between two big centre halves. He is irreplaceable for City, he really is. With Gloucester languishing in and around the relegation zone the second half of the season will highlight just exaclty how important Knowles is.

Central Midfield – Jack Twyman (Slimbridge)

Twyman scored the clincher in the 2-0 win over Winchester City and it capped over a vintage performance from the midfield man. Twyman likes to pull the strings in that middle third and connects the back four to the midfield and the midfield to the forwards. Without being critical to the rest of the Swans but Jack Twyman is the best technical player in the Slimbridge side. His workrate is up there with the best of them and when he is on song he has the ability to make Slimbridge tick.

Left Midfield – Shaun O’Connor (Longlevens)

Shaun O’Connor scored the winner at Brackley Town Saints earlier in the month and was the main threat going forward for Longlevens. He showcased his strengths and ultimately played to those strengths. Constantly on the shoulder of the last man he was flagged offisde on numerous occasions and was set through a couple of times. He gambled on a long ball forward and got his just rewards when after the keeper came flapping, O’Connor composed himself to lift the ball into the net from 18 yards and chalked up a big three points for Longlevens.

Striker – Sam Blackie (Brimscombe & Thrupp)

The Brimscombe man is back to his best. We saw him score two well taken goals at home to Wootton Bassett earlier in the season and I have seen him terrorise defences this season. He had a quietish winter and had a spell out injured. But Blackie is back and has been terrorising defences all month. Blackie caused Tuffley all sorts of trouble in the cup earlier in the month and was very unfortunate to have not scored. It has felt like that was the only game this month he didn’t score in either by the way. His hattrick at Windsor shows just how good and clinical he is.

Striker – Dan Gudger (Cirencester Town Development)

I was so impressed with Cirencester Town’s Development side as they literally tore Tuffley Rovers apart. I was impressed by a couple of players more than others and Gudger for me, was one of the stand outs on the pitch. He scored two well taken goals and could have had more if it wasn’t a couple of decent Dave Evans saves. The young man ran himself ragged for the best part of 80 minutes and only went off after overstretching for a ball. But he wa quick with and without the ball, was strong in the air and was incredibly clinical in and around the box. An easy choice.

As always there are three substitutes and a manager to lead this strong and powerful team into battle. The subs are as follows:

Tom Hoskins (Slimbridge)
Sam Walsh (Cirencester Town Development)
Dave Merrick (Longlevens)

In terms of the manager this month there was one stand out. Bishops Cleeve manager Stephen Cleal (who joined us on the latest edition of the podcast, which can be listened to here) saw his side make ground on Barnstaple Town and have actually threaten the most miraculous of survival bids. If Cleeve somehow stay up then Cleal is in line for manager of the year and not just locally. His Bishops Cleeve side looked so confident at Slimbridge and the way in which they applied themselves for 90 minutes was so impressive. Defensively they did a job on the Slimbridge XI and ground out the win despite not having the bulk of the play. Something required when fighting for your life in a league.

So that is everyone set. The starting XI. The subs and the manager. Here is the XI in full:

We will be announcing our February fixtures week by week due to the weather. Once we have settled back down weather wise we will be announcing games by the month. This weekend’s featured game will be announced tomorrow night so check our Facebook & Twitter pages.