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January`s Vanarama National League Manager & Player Awards

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The first Vanarama National League Manager of the Month for 2018 is Solihull Moors` Mark Yates, who has taken to life back in the National League like a duck to water.

The side began 2018 bottom of the fifth-tier, with a worrying seven points separating them from safety.

But a confidence-boosting victory over Maidenhead United, followed by a goalless draw at league leaders Macclesfield Town helped put the Moors’ survival bid back on track.

Free-scoring Solihull fired 6 goals in two further wins against Woking and Dagenham & Redbridge to cut the gap to safety to just a point.

With Yates now establishing himself at The ATG Stadium with assistant Tim Flowers all eyes will be on the Moors heading into the survival run-in.

The National League Player of the Month for January is Eastleigh`s Sam Wood.

It’s been a great month for Eastleigh on the field, but a tough one off it.

Last week it was announced club founder Derik Brooks had passed away.

The Spitfires, however, have been in fine form in January, winning all four matches and moving into the top half of the table.

Sam Wood

Former Brentford and Wycombe Wanderers man Sam Wood has played an important role from left-back and with his pin-point delivery from set-pieces and wide positions.

With key contributions at both ends of the pitch, Wood earns the accolade for January 2018.

The National League North Manager of the Month award goes to Jason Ainsley of Spennymoor Town

It may be the first season for Spennymoor in the National League North, but the side from County Durham are making an excellent impression.

Jason Ainsley

While sitting fourth in the table, Ainsley has also masterminded a strong challenge in the Buildbase FA Trophy, beating Solihull Moors to reach the final sixteen of the competition.

League-wise, Spenny faced several of their rivals for a place in the top seven, managing victories over Blyth Spartans and Bradford Park Avenue to start the month.

A creditable draw at Bootham Crescent versus York City – a side four divisions above them just two seasons ago – and the home defeat of Tamworth concluded a strong January for the new boys in the sixth-tier.

Brackley Town`s Shane Byrne is the National League North Player of the Month for January.

Victory over top-of-the-table Salford City in their final match in January showed just why Brackley have been tough to beat and score against this campaign.

Shane Byrne, a tough-tackling Irishman at the heart of the Saints midfield, has been an important part of Kevin Wilkin’s side, who remained unbeaten during the opening month of 2018.

January began with four points in matches against Nuneaton Town and Leamington, before Brackley dealt well with a long midweek trip up to Barrow AFC, coming away with a fairly comfortable 2-0 win in an FA Trophy replay.

Shane Byrne

Two further results in the aforementioned victory against Salford and at Tamworth put Brackley in a commanding position towards the top of the National League North.

The midfielder’s stand out influenc since the New Year earns him the award.

The National League South Manager of the Month award goes to the experienced Tony Burman of Dartford.

An unbeaten January has maintained Dartford’s position at the top of the table.

Tony Burman

Burman will be hoping to add a fourth promotion with the club to his CV after a fine start to season for the Darts, with a three-point lead over their nearest challengers.

The table-toppers won all three home matches during the first month of 2018, including a strong Havant & Waterlooville outfit plus Whitehawk, who were unbeaten during January up until that point.

After narrowly missing out in the play-off semi-finals last season for promotion to the fifth-tier, Burman and co will be driven to make amends this time around.

Whitehawk`s Gold Omotayo is the Vanarama National League South Player of the Month for January.

The end of 2017 was one to forget for Whitehawk.

Without a win in the opening 23 matches and a 19-point gap from safety, some thought the writing was already on the wall for Steve King’s men.

Gold Omotayo

But the Hawks seem to have struck gold with their new star man Gold Omotayo, a Swiss-born striker making quite a name for himself in the National League game, scoring 5 goals in as many games this month.

A brace for the 24-year-old earned Whitehawk a first league victory of the season at Eastbourne Borough on New Year’s Day.

Goals in matches against Truro City and at Oxford City both proved to be winners and have provided the Hawks a glimmer of hope in their battle against the drop.

Could this be the kick-start to one of the greatest of all escapes?

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