NPLW Player of the Month: April

by Jordan Lim 0

Five teams picked up seven points or more in the month of April, with new ladder leaders Calder United, the improving Alamein FC and surprise packages Southern United heading the form ladder for Rounds 6-9.

As such, those clubs have earned representation for the NPLW Player of the Month nominees, although the harder task was nailing down the best performers per club. For the majority of those clubs, it was a team effort, although there were standout individuals who stuck their neck out from the rest of the pack.

These are the players selected for the month of April, with six names (instead of the usual five) up for the public vote.

We’d also like to remind you that the winner at the end of the voting cycle will also win a $100 gift voucher courtesy of Soccer 5s Dandenong, to use on pitch-hire and a range of other offerings, so get voting via the poll below!

Mikhaila Bowden (Southern United)

Photo: Rachel Bach

As previously mentioned, Southern head the form ladder for the last four weeks, with the side currently in the midst of a three-game unbeaten run. While the form of young midfielders Elisabeth Robers and Natasha Dakic have been career-best, with Christina Fonua also noted for her performances in goal, the eventual nomination went to American import Mikhaila Bowden who has enjoyed a stellar start to life in the NPLW. Plays like a midfielder with the ball at feet and fast proving herself to be one of the best out-and-out defenders in the league, Bowden has been a major figure for the project that Rob Giabardo and Bill Mihaloudis are building. Two clean sheets, two goals and an assist marks a brilliant month of football in which Southern boasted the second best defensive record.

Kyra Cooney-Cross (Senior NTC)

Photo: Rachel Bach

While Melina Ayres has received ample attention for her goal scoring exploits this season, there is one youngster that is going toe-to-toe with the South Melbourne forward. Cooney-Cross has matched Ayres’ tally for the month of April by netting a stunning six times, with five of her goals coming in the space of a week. The left winger has been a revelation this season after showing her promise with seven appearances scattered across the 2016 season. She has stepped up in the absence of MelindaJ Barbieri to take the mantle as the Senior NTC’s game-breaker. Cooney-Cross currently sits second on the Golden Boot standings.

Cindy Lay (Calder United)

Photo: Rachel Bach

While the entire Calder defensive unit have been in peak form – which has culminated in a a meagre two goals conceded in the month of April, a league best – it has been more of a team effort to keep the goals at bay. As such, the nominations lies with Cindy Lay who has been the most potent attacking force for the league leaders who have stormed to three consecutive wins, doing so with the best goal difference of the month. Her personal highlight was a decisive first half hat-trick in the Round 8 destruction of Bayside United, while she grabbed a further strike in another strong performance against Alamein in the round gone by.

Natalie Martineau (South Melbourne)

Photo: Cindy Nitsos

Martineau has slipped seamlessly back into life in the top-flight of Victorian football after a years sabbatical in State League One, as one of a handful of players to have stuck it out with South Melbourne. The Canadian has formed a vital part of the well-oiled midfield machine at the disposal of coach Socrates Nicolaidis and although they were outwitted in their Round 6 matchup against Alamein FC, the unit put in three solid back-to-back performances, none more so than Martineau. While this spot could’ve easily gone to midfield compatriot Jamie Pollock, or in-form attacking duo Lisa De Vanna or Melina Ayres, it’s the box-to-box running and energy supplied by Martineau that has paved the way for South’s fluent attacking displays of late.

Mari Pastor (Alamein FC)

Photo: Backline Photography

Pastor has shouldered much of the attacking work from an advanced midfield position in the month of April, and has largely stepped up in a leadership position after the departure of Amy Marron. Donning the armband, the 22-year-old has netted four times and grabbed two assists throughout the month and has done so while also bringing together a young squad to achieve plenty of success, winning three out of their four fixtures. Her finest display came in the 4-3 win over Box Hill United in which she played a role in all four goals for her side, scoring twice and laying on two assists. Her ceiling is massive and should Alamein plan on going deep into the finals series, Pastor will be central to their success.

Adriana Taranto (Galaxy United)

Photo: Rachel Bach

Taranto makes a second consecutive appearance as a Player of the Month nominee after finishing third in the voting process for March. A stand out in an attack-minded Galaxy United outfit who has scored two or more goals in all five of their fixtures for the month, Taranto has earned three Team of the Week nominations from four games after having a massive say in the way things have panned out in the forward third. Grabbing a handful of assists, a goal and plenty of killer balls, Taranto will be hoping that her form translates to more on field success for a Galaxy side that has seen a slight blip in form, with just two wins from their last five games.

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