With the dramatic scenario surrounding the season’s final game about to take centre stage, in the clam before the storm I thought I’d take a look at my top five contenders for ‘Player of the season’
My choices are not based on any sort of rating, I don’t really believe in that – my choices are based on the contributions each player has made in my own opinion and how they’ve developed over the course of the season.
The fiery Irish shot stopper arrived in the summer and a quick glance at his stats hinted that he might be playing second fiddle to Bobby Oljenik, as apart from a season on loan at Stockport he’s never really been a regular (judged on a regular playing 30 games plus over the course of a season).
That said Logan was handed the number one shirt and despite a shaky start, proved that time is all you need to hit a rich vein of form and become pretty much a fan favourite and solid choice between the sticks.
Having missed just one League Two game, Wycombe away, Logan has contributed with pivotal save after pivotal save at critical moments – winning us points in the process.
With 13 clean sheets in 48 appearances the former Hibs man has helped the Stags put together a tight enough defence to push up the table, and if we did make the play-offs – I’m sure he would emerge as a hero, stable keepers are hard to come by – I think Logan has more to give and would welcome him committing another year to the cause.
The clubs joint longest serving player along with Mal Benning has once again been a rock this season at the heart of the Stags defence and in my opinion, should be given some recognition for his service – I was delighted to see him sign a contract extension earlier this season.
Most suited alongside side last season’s player of the season Rhys Bennett, Pearce has perhaps been lucky given the long term injury to David Mirfin, who started the season and whom many predicted to take Pearces’ mantle as one of the clubs most loved defenders.
As captain in the absence of Zander Diamond, Pearce has really shone and whilst he may not be the most vocal of leaders, his calm character and consistent solid play, both in the air and on the floor – yes everyone loves a KP box to box rampage – has impressed me and feel confident in our backline, something I struggled with when Pearce was out of the side.
Despite having only scored twice, Pearce is a constant threat in both boxes and I believe will be the anker to our side for many years to come, I’d certainly welcome him becoming captain on a full time basis.
The tenacious midfielder has a lot to thank former fitness and rehabilitation coach Lee Taylor for, as Taylors influence has turned MacDonald’s promise into reality – and it’s really showed this season.
The Stags number seven has had a season of two halves really, starting off on the right hand side of midfield and contributing with a good work rate to create opportunities as Mansfield played predominantly down the right, but since mid-November time, it’s been the middle for Macca, where his tenacity and energy gave us something we we’re desperately missing and allowed the focus to switch flanks, with CJ Hamilton taking the role of the creative wide man.
MacDonald perhaps hasn’t been at his complete best since the arrival of David Flitcroft and has been weighed down with rumours of a move to join Steve and Dodgy at Peterborough in the summer, but which player hasn’t to be fair! Over the course of the season, I’ve been impressed with his drive and attitude – he’s one of few who have seemed to want to play for the cause – and players who have pride in the badge on the front of the shirt rather than the name on the back, will always be praised by me.
Hemmings, like Logan, is another who is proof of time being a great healer. In a similar fashion to Matt Green, Hemmings arrived on loan from Oxford United a little broken and in need of games to recapture his best form – and since late November he’s found that, scoring some important goals but also contributing with dangerous runs and link-up play.
Whilst Danny Roses’ goals seemed to have dried up of late, Hemmings has continued to find the net contributing with 14 goals – some from the spot including that cool as you like 9000000th minute equaliser at Notts County, going into the final game of the season, just how important has that point proven!
Hemmings has showed passion and commitment to Mansfield Town and we were fortunate to keep hold of him during January when Oxford had the brief opportunity to recall him – he’d be the main target in the summer for me and could go onto become a legendary striker at the club.
An obvious choice, the leading front man and fans favourite has been in good form this season and despite not scoring yet under his old gaffer David Flitcroft, has still been a regular figure and key contributor to the Stags cause.
Strikers can often been defined by their type of play or by the goals they score, for example Matt Green very rarely scored from outside the box or with a header, whilst Jimmy Spencer is seen as a target man – Rose offers something a little different, he offers a bit of everything and I look forward to another transfer window of worry that he’ll leave, knowing full well the Radfords won’t sell their prize asset.
Some of the goals he’s scored have been simply breath-taking, people talk often of his volley in the Shaw Lane FA Cup match which won him goal of the round – his header in the same match was even more special in my view.
Off the pitch Rose is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, his interaction with fans means he’s a true club man – highlighted on Saturday at Yeovil when a young fan had a bit of paper saying “Rose, Can I have your shirt?” – he spotted it and handed it over with a smile.
At only 24, Rose is still a young talent and will continue to grow, the goals will start to flow again – and long that nay continue for season after season.
There are a few names I’ve missed off my top five list, some obvious some not so. Rhys Bennett, last year’s winner, I’ve missed off by virtue of the fact he won it last year and perhaps hasn’t been as consistent as last season, not to say he hasn’t still been excellent though!
Bennett, who played every single game last season, is a future captain in my opinion but needs to stop being looked at as a right back playing centre back, in my view he’s a more accomplished central defender who can play right back – him and Pearce have a solid understanding and I full believe the former Rochdale man will be back in League One, with Mansfield, in the future and next season, will be another key figure.
CJ Hamilton was a tough one to miss out, he’d certainly win the most improved player award and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did get some form of accolade at the end of season awards night. His lightening pace and flair scares teams to death and whenever he’s not in the starting line-up, we miss him – Chesterfield and Yeovil being fine examples.
He’s still got a lot to learn and having signed a new deal, I believe he will continues to flourish over the next two seasons and go one of two ways, either stay at the club for years or be sold in a year’s time for big money and play at a very high level, he’s got bags of potential.
Paul Anderson would have been in the top five, if it hadn’t been for David Flitcroft. Anderson must be wondering what on earth he’s done to not get a look in, capable pretty much anywhere on the pitch, he clearly loves the club and will want to stay – but won’t if he’s not getting football which is a crying shame. I liked him as a captain, I rate him very highly and let’s be honest, should win an award for that beard. First class
AKA The award for Paul Digby.
You knew I’d include him somewhere! The adaptable defender/ midfielder was brought in by Steve Evans in the summer and despite playing predominately across the back line, was given a new role just infront of the back four and following impressive displays in pre-season was dubbed ‘The Interceptor’ by yours truly.
Yet once the season began Big Steve changed the system meaning Digby’s interceptor role soon became an out and out central midfielder which he is not, leading to the majority of fans disliking the former Barnsley and Ipswich man.
The 23 year old has a lot of promise and has shone over the last two games coming in at Right Back, he’s excellent in the air and will get better on the floor – I hope that Flitcroft sticks with him because if played at the back, can become a lynch pin for us giving us options in both boxes and to play with three at the back without opening ourselves up too much.
A final nod is to Ricky Miller, I feel for him really given the saga of his personal life, him not getting a look in and then his injury. He seems to show remorse for his well documented off the pitch actions and when he has appeared, looks hungry. I think it’d be worth taking a gamble of Miller next season, get him settled and the goals will follow.
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