PICTURE by Welsh Premier League.
HAVING announce my Welsh Premier League Team of the Season via Twitter last week, I have now decided to follow it up with an article detailing a little more information about each player chosen.
Congratulations to all those picked and here’s to continued success during 2018/19!
Goalkeeper – Matt Hall (Bangor City)
Hall arrived at City last summer, having previously been on the books at Premier League side West Bromwich Albion – where he had once been on the fringes of the first team.
Many fans complained when long-term number 1 Connor Roberts was dropped to make way for Hall, but it’s fair to say that Bangor stuck to their guns, gave him a chance, and it paid off big time.
Bangor’s number one finished the season with 10 clean sheets in 22 WPL matches and conceded just 17 goals.
Right back – Declan Walker (Aberystwyth)
What a campaign this man has had. Hard to believe that a right back could score 11 goals in the league, but that is exactly what Aber’s Walker has done this season.
The former Bangor City man has been in inspired form under his old manager Nev Powell, who seems to have once again brought out the best in him.
His work rate and ability to get forward has been frightening at times and it’s great to see both him and Aber into the Welsh Cup final this year.
Centre back – Connell Rawlinson (TNS)
Rawlinson has become one of the best defenders in the division in my opinion.
His towering figure gives him the advantage in the air and his physical presence does wonders for his side’s defensive game too as TNS marched onto their seventh successive WPL title this year.
It’s little wonder to me that the likes of League Two side Port Vale and a whole host of other teams are after the 26-year-old’s signature. With his contract set to run out at Park Hall this summer, will The Saints struggle to keep hold of him?
Centre back – Kai Edwards (Connah’s Quay)
Andy Morrison is doing a fine job with The Nomads at the moment, having led his side to a 3rd place finish in the WPL and to the final of the Welsh Cup too.
Edwards has been at the heart of the very best defence in the league this season (shipping just 29 goals, 3 less than champions TNS) and has looked solid throughout the campaign.
The former TNS and Wrexham man has bags of experience by now and that has certainly shown in his performances during 2017/18.
Left back – Chris Hugh (Barry Town)
I personally enjoyed seeing Barry back in the big time this season. No club of their size should ever be out of the top flight, so it’s good to see them back where they belong.
Full-back Hugh has been one of the star turns in Gavin Chesterfield’s side this year and has been the division’s stand out player at left back for me.
Hugh, who is a full Welsh International futsal player and a fully-qualified dentist by trade, looks as though he belongs in Wales’ top flight and is finally getting his chance to prove what he can do.
Left winger – Luke Wall (Bangor City)
“Wall-y” has really stood out at times this year since making the move to Wales from League Two side Accrington Stanley last summer.
In what has been a very memorable season for Bangor (for the right and wrong reasons), the winger has been a bright spark in their starting eleven and has established himself as a firm fans favourite at Nantporth.
He’s been one of the top flight’s ones to watch out wide and ends his debut campaign on eight goals. I’d be very surprised if a Welsh Premier League club didn’t make a move for him this summer following City’s relegation.
Centre midfield – Danny Gosset (Bangor City)
Local lad who has grown to be, not just one of the most-loved characters at Nantporth, but one of the best in recent times too.
Gosset’s performances at times this season have been nothing short of superb and so it’s easy to see just why many fans and pundits alike hold the 23-year-old in high regard. His experience of playing for professional clubs such as Oldham, Stockport and even TNS is certainly telling nowadays.
His passing and movement in the middle of the park has made him a key player for Bangor City and his inclusion in the Cymru C squad to take on England C at the start of the year was no surprise to anyone.
Centre midfield – Alec Mudimu (Cefn Druids)
This man has been an absolute revelation in what has been a season that has defied all expectation for The Ancients this season.
Mudimu is a strong and commanding midfielder and has had his fair share in scoring the goals for the Druids this season too – being their top scorer on seven goals. He looks a different class when he steps onto the pitch and that has helped the club enjoy a phenomenal campaign.
Incredibly, his performances attracted international recognition midway through the campaign too as he was called up to represent his country of Zimbabwe. He made his debut against Zambia on March 21.
Right winger – Eliot Evans (Cardiff Met)
Evans has certainly had a season to remember on a personal level this year.
The Cardiff Met Uni winger’s fine form has seen him finish the season as their top scorer on 13 goals (he is the only Met player to hit double figures). His great performances also saw him selected for the Cymru C side which took on England C at the start of the year.
Met may have slipped off the radar a bit in the second phase after the WPL split, but he’ll be hoping to help The Archers go one step further than they did last year and reach Europe via the play-off’s before the season ends.
Striker – Greg Draper (TNS)
The deadliest of all strikers in Wales’ top flight – Draper finally claimed the Golden Boot award this year, having hit 22 goals.
The New Zealander has well and truly hit his peak for champions TNS this season and after many years of going close, he’s finally finished as the league’s top scorer. A record of 106 goals in 182 matches has seen Draper put himself down into the WPL history books as one of the most prolific scorers in recent times.
The fact that he has managed to finish eight goals above anyone else also tells you how good he is.
Striker – Kayne McLaggon (Barry Town)
Just as I predicted last summer, McLaggon turned out to be a very shrewd signing for his hometown club.
The former Southampton youngster returned to Jenner Park last July and told AFEFootbalNews that he was looking forward to playing “closer to home”. That advantage has certainly seemed to go in the striker’s favour this season, as he has it 12 goals in 28 WPL appearances.
His mix of pace and movement along with his ability to finish has made him stand out as one of the WPL’s best forwards. If it wasn’t for injury, I am certain he would have hit a few more goals too as he’s had a great debut season in Wales’ top flight.
MANAGER: Huw Griffiths (Cefn Druids)
For me this was a tough call between Griffiths and Kevin Nicholson (Bangor), however, what the Cefn Druids manager has achieved this season is nothing short of incredible in all fairness.
Many (including myself admittedly) had put The Anicents down as one of the favourites to be relegated during 2017/18. However, they’ve gone in the complete opposite direction and are on the brink of qualifying for European football next season.
Griffiths has to be commended for the way that he has set his team up to play and also for the signings he has brought into the club to help them compete in the division. He thoroughly deserves the Manager of the Season award in my opinion.
Goalkeeper – Ashley Morris (Bala)
A consistently decent number one who often stands out for Bala Town and is a safe pair of hands in net.
Centre back – Anthony Miley (Bangor)
Bangor Supporters Player of the Season and it’s easy to see why. Miley is a commanding centre half who has bags of WPL experience and has enjoyed a fine campaign this year.
Full back – Naim Arsan (Cefn Druids)
24-year-old who is beginning to make a name for himself under the guidance of Huw Griffiths. The fact that he was selected in the Cymru C squad shows how promising he is.
Central midfielder – Chris Venables (Bala)
By now, Venables is surely regarded as one of the best players to have played in Wales’ top flight over the past decade. Even when he isn’t bang on form, he’s still brilliant to watch. The 32-year-old is a seasoned WPL veteran and has hit eight goals from midfield during 2017/18.
Winger – Adam Roscrow (Cardiff Met)
One of Met’s main men and followed up a great debut campaign with the club last season with another fine season this year. He finished the campaign with nine goals in 21 WPL matches.
Winger – Ryan Brobbel (TNS)
Explosive New Saints winger who has been lively throughout as his side marched onto a seventh successive WPL title. He’s bagged six goals from out wide this season.
Striker – Dean Rittenberg (Bangor City)
Bangor’s Young Player of the Season has been in inspired form at times this year. The ex-Blackburn Rovers man has hit 11 goals in 30 matches during 2017/18, which is not a bad tally for a 21-year-old.