Player And Goalkeeper Of The Month Awards
Fri 8th March 2013 | League Awards | By Ian Templeman
PLAYER OF THE MONTH AWARDS
PREMIER DIVISION - MIKE TOMLINSON OF RUNCORN LINNETS
In a month where Runcorn Linnets dominated the form tables and goal scoring charts, the team ethos has been typified immeasurably by the new Linnets skipper, Mike “Tommo” Tomlinson. After taking the armband against Norton United in the first game of 2013, Mike led the team to nine consecutive wins in the first two months of the year, a club record, and also performed immaculately and consistently in the six wins from six in February.
The return of the former England non-league international to the place where he started his career caused waves of excitement amongst the Runcorn fans, and the enthusiasm and leadership qualities exuded by Mike Tomlinson have not disappointed a fan-base desperate for success.
Solid performances are built from the back, and the centre back partnership of Tommo and Mike Burke is certainly amongst the strongest witnessed by the Linnets faithful. Perhaps the most obvious trait of the captain is a reassurance and calmness under pressure, and the ability to diffuse opposition attacks with the minimum of fuss or histrionics, almost inevitably providing an assured pass to redress the balance into a Linnets attack.
Forays into the opposition half are not the style of the defensive man-mountain, however on occasion Mike has been known to venture forward, and his header into Lee Madin at Wigan Robin Park set up Chris Lomax’s debut goal, as the Linnets cruised to the first of two consecutive clean sheets to finish the month.
Picking a Player Of The Month should have been a daunting task, especially once again with the goal scoring exploits of Ross McDowell, who bagged seven in his four appearances, and the general all round team work ethic and performance levels.
Belief and trust in the defensive line have enabled the Linnets to score an average of four goals per game in the month of February, as well as keeping a continued interest in three competitions. That belief has largely come from the immaculate performances put in by a defence marshalled by Mike Tomlinson, our deserved Player of the Month.
DIVISION ONE - FRANNY SMITH OF FORMBY
Formby played seven games in February winning them all. At the heart of this remarkable run of form was midfield maestro Franny Smith. Franny plays in the holding position in front of a back three, but such has been the quality of his performances he has re-defined the role and in doing so become one of Formby's key players.
The opening game of the month at home to Atherton LR was only Formby's second match since mid-November and saw Franny dominate proceedings with the quality of his passing. Next up was a visit to Cheadle Town and again Franny was the most influential player on the pitch and was awarded Man of the Match by the opposition. Formby's third match of the month was at home to Daisy Hill and saw Franny set up the first goal by winning a 50/50 tackle in midfield, the third goal with a defence splitting through ball before scoring the fourth with a superb strike from twenty yards. He was again noominated as Man of the Match.
The following Saturday was Formby's, and Franny's, biggest challenge so far, a League Challenge Trophy tie away at Premier Division Barnoldswick Town. Franny orchestrated a superb display by Formby in which they beat their illustrious opponents 3-2. Such was the quality of his performance that he was awarded Man of the Match for the third game in a row.
Formby returned to League action away at Irlam, running out 5-2 winners with Franny involved in three of the goals. He started the moves for two of them and provided the killer through ball for the fifth goal. Nelson provided Formby's next opponents and although he didn't score Franny was still nominated as Man of the Match.
Franny carried his rich vein of form into Formby's final game of the month, the top of the table battle with local rivals Ashton Town. In many ways this was his best performance of the month as Ashton set out to shackle him from the outset and in fact succeeded for forty five minutes. In the second half Franny rose to the challenge and was at his imperious best, masterminding a Formby fight back that saw them take all three points.
He scored the equalising goal which was described by Ashton Town in their match report as follows, "Jason Carey’s flick over the head of the Town’s central defence was sublimely volleyed home by the foot of Franny Smith. It was an eye catching goal that left Nathan Brabin with no chance". Not content with scoring the equaliser, Franny won the tackle and played the pass that lead to Formby's winning goal.
Far from just sitting in front of his defence and protecting them, Franny drives his team forward creating chances and scoring goals. He has the knack of finding space in crowded midfields that all quality players do. Perhaps the truest measure of Franny's impact is that he was nominated as man of the match by opponents in four of the seven games he played in February.
GOALKEEPER OF THE MONTH AWARDS – SPONSORED BY REUSCH
PREMIER DIVISION - KARL WILLS OF RUNCORN TOWN
The 25-year old number one at Runcorn Town has had another great month for the club, with the last game of the month against Walsall Wood in the FA Vase being his 121st consecutive appearance for Town.
The opening game of the month against Rocester in the FA Vase saw him make an important save from Ryan Pirrie in the 62nd minute as he tipped over his shot with the score at 1-1. A clean sheet followed against then leaders Maine Road in a 3-0 win, with Karl weighing in with an assist as his long clearance set up Stuart Wellstead's goal.
A second successive clean sheet, his 11th of the season, followed against Ashton Athletic, with Karl doing superbly to keep out Ashton's young attacking threat, his tip around the post from Justin Yun's effort the pick of the bunch. Despite conceding three in a 5-3 win at Colne, Town's number one was powerless to stop any of the goals.
The best performance of the month came in the following match, a 1-1 home draw against a resurgant St Helens Town team, with Karl doing superbly to deny both Charles Stoker and Cole Ashton in the first half as Saints threatened. Karl was again vital in thwarting the attacking threat of Walsall Wood in the final game of the month, with two saves in particular from Ahmet Bilgimer towards the end of the game keeping Town in the game.
DIVISION ONE - JOHN McILWAINE OF ABBEY HEY
John has been outstanding all season, conceding the least amount of goals by any keeper in the NWCFL. February was no different with 3 clean sheets out of 6 games with only one goal conceeded in each of the other 3 games.
John performed exceptionally well in Abbey's 3-0 victory away at Rochdale, where the home side threw everything at him for the whole 90 minutes and John's handling of of the pressure from crosses and long balls into the box was flawless on the day. Further clean sheets away at Holker in the cup and Eccleshall in the league cemented three perfect away performances for John in February.
John is only 22 years old and his attitude and professionalism towards preparation and training is fantastic. Throughout February, John did extra training sessions with the club's goalkeeper coach to work on certain aspects of his game he felt he needed to improve on. He deseves to do well in the game and is a really bright goalkeeping prospect for the future.