KEITH Lowe has confessed it came as no surprise that he missed out on being crowned the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for February today.
The York City defender helped his side concede just one goal in four undefeated matches during the second month of 2014 but reasoned that the award is normally the preserve of headline-grabbing players further up the pitch.
Fellow defender Jim McNulty, from Bury, was nominated for the accolade too, but winner Scott Hogan and fellow striker Sam Winnall, of promotion-chasing Rochdale and Scunthorpe respectively, were also on the shortlist.
Hogan netted a 16-minute hat-trick during the qualifying period, while Winnall hit the target in four consecutive fixtures.
Former Cheltenham centre-back Lowe, whose biggest individual accolade remains the Whaddon Road club’s Player of the Year prize in 2010/11, currently heads The Press Player of the Year standings by five points despite only swapping Gloucestershire for North Yorkshire in November, but he was always sceptical of his chances of receiving national recognition.
He said: “Being nominated was not something I have encountered before, so it was great and an honour really, but I knew it could go to any of the other three players.
“The lad at Rochdale has done really well and scored a lot of goals, as has Sam Winnall.
“Strikers tend to get these awards so, let’s just say, I wasn’t holding my breath.”
The 28-year-old centre-back left Cheltenham at a time when the Robins had the leakiest defence in the division.
But he has been somewhat exonerated from those failings with the reversal in City’s fortunes at the back since his arrival.
With Lowe in the team, the Minstermen have conceded just 13 times in 18 matches, compared to the 38 goals that were shipped during the first 20 fixtures of the campaign.
He is typically modest, however, about his own impact, adding: “It’s been a great record and I think I have settled in very well but I have got to say thanks to all the lads and everybody here for helping me make a happy transition from my previous club to this one, which has been shown in the performances.
“It’s a great shame that the nomination couldn’t have gone to everybody really, because it’s not just about me, it’s about the whole squad.”
Lowe’s fellow centre-back John McCombe actually took The Press’ Player of the Month honours for February and he has now scored three goals in seven appearances since a transfer window switch from Mansfield.
Despite netting five times last term, Lowe is yet to open his account for the Minstermen but is planning to join McCombe on the scoresheet shortly, saying: “The ball seems like a bit of a magnet to him at the moment. It keeps falling to him so I will just keep plugging away and, hopefully, one will come my way soon.”
Having been a member of the Cheltenham team, meanwhile, that narrowly defeated AFC Wimbledon 1-0, courtesy of a last-minute Jamie Cureton goal earlier in the season, Lowe is under no illusion about the challenge the Minstermen will face when they visit tomorrow’s hosts.
“They are very organised and quite a physical team, so it will be a battle and we will have to keep our wits about us,” Lowe insisted.
“But we have got a bit of momentum going and we are putting in good performances, even in the games we don’t win.”
Now in his fifth month on the Bootham Crescent books, Lowe also reckons that manager Nigel Worthington has assembled a squad every bit as strong as the two that he was a part of during play-off campaigns over the last two seasons at Cheltenham.
The former Wolves and QPR defender warned, however, that there is no room for complacency concerning the club’s current tenth-placed standing.
“I think this squad is right up with those that we got to the play-offs with at Cheltenham but this league is a strange one,” he explained.
“We are looking above ourselves at the play-offs but still looking over our shoulders at the relegation zone, so it’s strange being right in the middle of it.”
Dons look back to future
AFC WIMBLEDON have looked like a hospital casualty ward recently, but manager Neil Ardley is starting to get the troops back ahead of the visit of York City tomorrow, writes Steve Carroll.
Andy Frampton, the ex-Crystal Palace, Brentford and Millwall defender who has been out for a month with a dislocated shoulder, and midfield schemer Peter Sweeney both played for the Dons in a London Senior Cup match against Cray Wanderers in midweek and could yet make the squad.
They will bring experience to a Wimbledon side shorn of skipper Alan Bennett for the last couple of games and which has lost striker Charlie Strutton for the rest of the season with a broken leg.
Ardley may also be boosted by the availability of Aaron Morris. The 24-year-old defender was replaced after half an hour of the Dons’ 0-0 draw at play-off hunting Fleetwood Town last Saturday.
Bothered by an ankle problem, the swelling is reported to have eased and he could make the line-up against City.
After a run of three straight defeats – against Oxford, Rochdale and Portsmouth, Wimbledon have bounced back with a win at Newport and that precious point in Lancashire last weekend.
That led Barry Fuller, who was captain in place of Bennett, to say: “We have to dig in and get ready to go again for York City.
“We have come through two fixtures that beforehand you would look at and say ‘they are going to be tough games’.”
Just a point and a place below York in League Two, the Dons could continue to employ the 4-4-2 formation manager Ardley used in that game – ditching the 3-5-2 he had favoured for the previous month.
AFC Wimbledon (possible): Worner, Fuller, Antwi, Jones, Richards, Collins, Sammy Moore, Morris, Luke Moore, Hylton, Sheringham.
YORK City have lost all five of their previous Football League trips to Wimbledon.
The first four of these were at Plough Lane against the original Wimbledon club in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the Fourth Division (League Two).
The corresponding fixture last term was played on the same weekend a year ago and marked Nigel Worthington’s first game in charge.
The Dons won 3-2 with Chris Smith scoring the two consolation goals. The line-up on March 9, 2013, was: Ingham, Parslow, Smith, O’Connell, Fyfield, Blair (Rodman), Kerr, McGrath, McLaughlin (Walker), Chambers, Rankine.
City made two Blue Square Premier visits to Kingsmeadow winning once and losing once.
It happened on March 8
1963: Walter Bingley from the penalty spot and Norman Wilkinson were the scorers in a 2-0 home win in the Fourth Division (League Two) against Newport County. The attendance was 4,083 and in the winter of the “big freeze” it was City’s first League game since December 22.
1971: Paul Aimson netted both goals in a 2-1 Fourth Division (League Two) win over Peterborough United in front of 5,254. It was City’s seventh game without defeat.
1975: Brian Pollard was the marksman in a 1-0 home win over Bristol City. The crowd was 7,251 and City were just below mid-table in Division Two (Championship).
1997: Blackpool were beaten 1-0 at Bootham Crescent thanks to a John Sharples goal. The attendance for this Second Division (League One) encounter was 3,639.
2003: A 3-1 home success against Cambridge United in the Third (League Two). On the scoresheet were Jon Parkin, Lee Nogan and Anthony Shandran.
Compiled by David Batters