Bristol Rovers can take motivation from EFL Awards snub as main season objective remains achievable

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There was no recoginition by the EFL for the brilliant second half of the season Bristol Rovers have had

The snub at the English Football League awards last night can act as another layer for motivation for Bristol Rovers and their quest for promotion.

Despite two games left in the regular season, the awards were held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, and made for some interesting discussion points.

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Connor Taylor was nominated for the Young Player of the Year Award in League Two, but Newport County’s Finn Azaz was preferred to the centre-back.

Taylor, despite recording 15 clean sheets in his first season in professional football, lost out to Azaz, who had six goals and five assists.

The 20-year-old wasn’t even included in the Team of the Season and instead Salford City’s Jordan Turnbull, who has kept two fewer clean sheets, was preferred to him, despite Rovers’ better performance in the league standards.

And perhaps another notable absentee in that side would be James Belshaw who has kept 16 clean sheets, six more than Wollacott at Swindon. Liam Roberts of Northampton Town, who has 21 clean sheets in 44 games, though may have been more deserving of the award.

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Connor Taylor lost out to Newport County’s Finn Azaz for the Young Player award. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images) Connor Taylor lost out to Newport County’s Finn Azaz for the Young Player award. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Connor Taylor lost out to Newport County’s Finn Azaz for the Young Player award. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Asked before the awards took place, Barton in his post-match conference after a draw with Forest Green said: “I would always imagine the team sitting in first, second and third get the lion’s share of players in there because of the seasons they have had.

“I’ve got a few of them in my house and they go next to the Manager of the Month, where I keep my books on that one.

“They are nice momentos and it’s nice if young players get it because it will do the world of good for their confidence.

“I don’t give a s*** about the individual awards, I give a s*** about the team awards at the end of the season and that is getting promoted.”

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And that is probably how the squad will react to not being recognised for their performances this season.

The argument against them is that maybe Rovers haven’t been consistent enough over the whole campaign given their poor start, but no one comes close to the 2022 they have had.

And both Taylor and Belshaw have been consistent over the course of the season, so that dispels one argument.

With two games, which are favourable in the end of season run-in, maximum points against Rochdale and Scunthorpe United should be expected.

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And whether it is enough for automatic promotion remains to be seen with Mansfield Town potentially overtaking the Gas tomorrow, should they beat Stevenage.

But a win on Saturday can at least secure a play-off spot in what at one point looked an unrealistic expectation given the slow start to the season.

And that is down to the team work and ethic of this Bristol Rovers team that perhaps in their own right deserves praise for their collective team work.

Perhaps why no player was considered is how, despite the obvious ability of the likes of Antony Evans and Elliot Anderson, Rovers’ success is based on how the team performs.

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There isn’t a reliance on one player to deliver the goods and instead there are a few players that can do the business.

League Two Manager of the Season: Rob Edwards (Forest Green Rovers)

League Two Team of the Season: Goalkeeper: Jojo Wollacott (Swindon Town), Jon Guthrie (Northampton Town), Jordan Turnbull (Salford City), Kane Wilson (Forest Green Rovers), Timothée Dieng (Exeter City), Finn Azaz (Newport County), Nicky Cadden (Forest Green

Rovers), Harry McKirdy (Swindon Town), Dominic Telford (Newport County), Matt Stevens (Forest Green Rovers).

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League Two Player of the Year: Kane Wilson (Forest Green Rovers)

League Two Young Player of the Year: Finn Azaz (Newport County)

LFE League Two Apprentice of the Year: Junior Tchamadeu (Colchester United)

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