National League Team of the Season

GK- Grant Smith (Borehamwood) Perhaps undervalued in a promotion-chasing side, Smith’s presence has been vital for Borehamwood’s push towards the play-offs. The England C international has performed consistently for two seasons, and manager Luke Garrard has kept faith with his number one. Wood have the joint-second best defensive record in the league and Smith has conceded 34 goals in 37 appearances, recording 16 clean sheets. Smith gets the nod over Macclesfield keeper Shwan Jalal for sharp reflexes and the ability to command the area.

RB- Cheye Alexander (Aldershot) Alexander has excelled for most of the season in an attacking outlet in Aldershot’s 4-3-3 formation. The 23-year-old chips in with assists and has contributed to Shot’s ambition to reach the Football League. Goals against Borehamwood and Leyton Orient displayed an ability to cut in on his left foot and unleash power.

CB- Shaun Pearson (Wrexham) It would be a disservice not to include any of the Wrexham defence. The Dragons have conceded 28 goals, the best defensive record in the division. Captain Pearson has been a vocal presence at heart of the defence. It would be difficult to make a case against someone who claims Pearson and Manny Smith are the best centre-back partnership in the league. The experienced 28-year-old has contributed four goals from set-pieces and has started every league match excluding one. Wrexham supporters speak enthusiastically about his winning goal in the cross-border derby against Chester.

CB- Jamie Collins (Sutton) Sutton’s skipper is consistently reliable and leads Paul Doswell’s men by example. After last year being named Sutton’s player of the season and scoring the decisive penalty against Leeds, this campaign has similarly demonstrated his traits as a leader. Calm on the ball and retaining possession well, his experience has a knock-on effect on the U’s squad.  It was hard to single out one Sutton player as the whole squad work collectively to succeed. The experience from the 33-year-old shows his duty to take the teams penalties from which he has dispatched four goals. The 33-year-old also takes his teams penalties, scoring four times.

LB- Femi Ilesanmi- (Dover Athletic) Watching Ilesanmi week in and week out, the number of times he starts the Dover attack and drives up the pitch is remarkable. Dover have only been shown once on TV this season, so he goes under the radar. Energetic performances have meant that he utilises the space on the left to chip in with assists to White’s target-man Ryan Bird. This decision was challenging as, Scott Barrow, David Fitzpatrick and Zaine Francis-Angol were all in contention to make the team.

RM- Elliot Durrell (Macclesfield) Durrell has been transformed into one of the best National League players after moving from Chester last summer. Most people expected creativity on the right but did not see him being influential and flourishing in a potential title-winning side. Intelligence to seek and find others warrants a place in this team. The fixture that stands out was against Tranmere. With the capability to strike a ball from distance he has chipped in with seven goals.

CM- Danny Whitaker (Macclesfield) Many professional players would see their career deteriorate when they reach 37 but Whitaker continues to give everything in his fifth season with The Silkmen. Coordinating the speed and path of the build-up in John Askey’s 4-4-1-1 formation, Whitaker pulls strings from pockets in deeper areas as well as around the box. This campaign undoubtedly has been his best with seven goals.

CAM- Louis Dennis (Bromley) Moving centrally this season, Dennis has excelled in his new number ten role. Still tending to drift out to the wing, his ball retention is phenomenal, and he is very comfortable when cutting in on his the favoured right foot. Whether or not Bromley achieve the play-offs, it is likely he will move on in the summer.

LM- Bruno Andrade (Borehamwood) Another player who defies the odds is Andrade. The 24-year-old has showed supporters nifty footwork and bursts of acceleration at Meadow Park. The dynamic forward can alternate on the left wing or up top as a striker. Borehamwood have a serious chance of promotion if Andrade and his team keeps up the form.

ST- Andy Cook (Tranmere Rovers) Andy Cook continues his prolific goalscoring form and has been instrumental in Tranmere’s resurgent second half of the season Micky Mellon’s target man looks set to hit 20+ goals for a third consecutive National League season as he is already on 17 goals. Tranmere are the second highest scorers in the division, and that comes down to Cook and Norwood’s partnership, which has yielded 32. What impresses me most is his natural ability to finish on either foot inside the box.

ST- Danny Rowe (AFC Fylde) People would always question whether the 28-year-old could replicate form at a higher level after scoring 50 goals in the National League North. He suits Dave Challinor’s attacking 4-3-3 formation and leads the Fylde line. Pointing out one specific achievement for Rowe is difficult. Scoring against Hartlepool to become AFC Fylde’s all-time leading goal scorer, a hat-trick against Aldershot or bagging in both fixtures against Wigan Athletic. It goes without saying that when you score 20+ goals, several Football League clubs will want to acquire your services.

Edited by Rob Steen

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