The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By Tom Black­ett

RED-HOT Barns­ley striker Sam Win­nall has adapted quickly to life in the sec­ond tier – and now he’s been re­warded with the Sky Bet Cham­pi­onship Player of the Month award for De­cem­ber.

The 25-year-old net­ted six times in six ap­pear­ances in the fi­nal month of the year to take his tally for the sea­son to 11 goals. His im­pres­sive form has helped Barns­ley to eighth place on their re­turn to the Cham­pi­onship this term and marked him out as one to watch.

The former Scun­thorpe hit­man said: “It’s a great hon­our and it’s al­ways pleas­ing to have a per­sonal ac­co­lade like this, but it can’t be done with­out the staff and the other play­ers so it’s tes­ta­ment to how far we’ve come and how well we’re do­ing as a team this sea­son.

“The fact that our play­ers are get­ting these awards in recog­ni­tion for per­for­mances shows that we’re do­ing the right things and ev­ery­one is rid­ing the wave of suc­cess.”

Tykes boss Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom has hailed the ef­forts of his in-form striker, who could be­come a tar­get for top-flight clubs if he con­tin­ues to hit the goal trail.

“We’re de­lighted that Sam has won the award,” said Heck­ing­bot­tom. “It’s great recog­ni­tion for the hard work that he’s put in and his im­pres­sive form – not just in De­cem­ber, but through­out the sea­son as well.


“He’s been clin­i­cal with his fin­ish­ing and has played a key role in what has been a strong month for us as a club.”

On the man­ager front, Brighton boss Chris Hughton has scooped the Sky Bet Cham­pi­onship Man­ager of the Month hon­our. The Seag­ulls bagged 13 points from 15 to con­tinue their pro­mo­tion as­sault.

The mod­est man­ager was happy to de­flect the plau­dits.

“As a man­ager it’s al­ways won­der­ful to win an award, but, in ef­fect, I’m only pick­ing it up on be­half of my staff and, more so, the play­ers,” he said.

“They’ve been out­stand­ing for me and it’s al­ways a nice feel­ing when the club gets recog­nised for a way of play­ing. I’m pick­ing it up on be­half of them.”

In League One, Rochdale cleaned up by claim­ing both the player and man­ager ac­co­lades.

Dale fin­ished 2016 in fourth place af­ter a su­perb month that saw them score 11 goals dur­ing their four wins from four games, in­clud­ing a 3-2 vic­tory over lead­ers Scun­thorpe.

De­fen­sive mid­fielder Matty Lund earned the player prize. He was at the heart of Rochdale’s good work – and also weighed in with a hat-trick against Northamp­ton.

The 26-year-old said: “It’s al­ways nice to win an award, but I think any one of the lads who played could have been picked be­cause we’ve been ex­cel­lent.

“We had an amaz­ing De­cem­ber and the whole team was fan­tas­tic. We worked hard, we stuck to­gether as a team and we were solid through­out the month.”


they’ve cre­ated the chances for me to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Kashket, who was re­leased by Ley­ton Ori­ent last sum­mer.

“It’s nice to have scored in ev­ery league game in De­cem­ber and hope­fully I can keep that run go­ing.

“I’m lov­ing my time here at Wy­combe and I’m ex­tremely grate­ful to the man­ager for putting his faith in me by bring­ing me here and giv­ing me the chance to show what I can do.”

Mean­while, Colch­ester United man­ager John McGreal has been cho­sen as the Man­ager of the Month af­ter the U’s picked up ten points from four games to con­tinue their charge up the ta­ble.

“It’s very flat­ter­ing to re­ceive the award,” said McGreal. “Steve Ball (as­sis­tant coach) and I are ob­vi­ously de­lighted, but the credit must go to the play­ers for the way they’ve adapted to what we’ve asked them to do.

“We’ve changed the sys­tem, had play­ers come back from in­jury and the whole squad has had the be­lief and tal­ent to go out there and per­form.”

Dale boss Keith Hill was a de­serv­ing re­cip­i­ent of the man­ager hon­our.

“I’m re­ally pleased to win the award, but it has been a team ef­fort,” he stressed. “The play­ers de­serve a lot of credit for putting our plans into prac­tice on the pitch and they de­serve this award in recog­ni­tion for what we achieved in De­cem­ber.”

In League Two, Wy­combe sen­sa­tion Scott Kashket bagged the Player of the Month hon­our. The 20-year-old, con­verted from winger to striker by boss Gareth Ainsworth, scored in each of his side’s four De­cem­ber games.

“Ev­ery­one in the team has been do­ing their jobs to help us win matches and

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

RIS­ING STAR: Barns­ley’s Sam Win­nall climbs high to score against Birm­ing­ham and, in­set, shows off his award

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

PRIZE GUYS: Rochdale’s Matty Lund, top, and Wy­combe’s Scott Kashket, left

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