In a month which saw the National League start its split into two separate divisions, Lincoln’s Julian Del Rio and Europa’s Rafael Escobar are FG’s Player of the Month and Manager of the Month respectively for January.
FG Player of the Month – Julian Del Rio (Lincoln Red Imps)
January was a breakout month for Del Rio, who grabbed his opportunity to start vs Lynx and Magpies in style, scoring four across both games including a hat-trick against Lynx across the space of 41 in-game minutes (as well as an assist in that game). The 17-year-old has started to position himself as a potential longer-term option for a Lincoln side who know they’ll need to re-build the local core of their side in the coming years.
Other impressive players last month were Juampe; the Europa winger who has been key to a lot of his side’s success and scored a hat-trick vs Lions, while in the Challenge Group, in a battle between Lee Muscat and Aaron Fleming for third spot, we’ve opted for the new Europa Point signing, with three goals and an assist, with his contributions among those that have seen the side become the nearest challenges to Mons Calpe for the title of “best of the rest”.
- Julian Del Rio (Lincoln Red Imps)
- Juan Pedro ‘Juampe’ Rico Dominguez (Europa FC)
- Aaron Fleming (Europa Point FC)
FG Manager of the Month – Rafael Escobar (Europa FC)
While both Lincoln and Europa both won their two games in the top half, Europa’s 3-1 win over St Joseph’s was enough to propel Escobar to the top of the pile this month in the managerial awards. The win was key in keeping the title challenge on track (as we saw with subsequent matches in February), while they learned the lessons from taking Lions too lightly before Christmas, by dispatching of them 5-0 this time.
German Crespo’s start was impressive, putting 5 past each of Lynx and Magpies, and Lincoln should have no fears of being caught from any of the teams below them, leaving them solely focused now on trying to claw back 2nd place if possible. Meanwhile, in the Challenge Group, it was again between Mons and Europa Point, but with Mons managerial situation being unclear at times in January (Leo Vela was on the touchline while reappointed manager Luis Blanco was in the stands), we’ve gone with Ian Hendon – the former Barnet manager has overseen an improvement in his squad while also winning all 3 matches they played in January, scoring 12 in the process.
- Rafael Escobar Obrero (Europa FC)
- German Crespo Sanchez (Lincoln Red Imps)
- Ian Hendon (Europa Point FC)