Finals-bound head coaches have almost unanimously agreed on a front-runner for this year’s Pascoe Cup Player of the Year ahead of the upcoming Football Wagga Gala Night.
Lake Albert’s Mitch Tinnock, Tolland’s Daniel Lawrence and Young’s Mark Mellish believe it’s hard to overlook the efforts of one particular individual earmarked for success at the midway point of the season - Tolland striker Jaiden O’Brien.
The Wolves youngster blasted 22 goals in 18 games to steer his side into a finals berth and at one stage averaged almost 2.5 goals per outing.
O’Brien has been kept scoreless in five of his past six games in conjunction with Tolland’s own slide out of top-two contention but Tinnock says it’s still difficult to go past the teenager.
“Jaiden’s really carried that Tolland side this year and he’s definitely been a standout, especially with his form at the start of the season,” Tinnock said.
Lawrence and Mellish agreed, arguing it would be hard to beat O’Brien after his charmed 16-goal run between May and July.
“I reckon he’s got to be the favourite,” Lawrence said.
“He’s slowed up a bit since then but he’s still been good up front.”
“It’s hard to go past someone like Jaiden, so I think he’ll win it,” Mellish added.
“Though I have to admit I’ve been very impressed with (Henwood Park veteran) Matt Menser this year - I’d say he’s been the most complete player in the competition.”
Not everyone’s convinced O’Brien will take home the silverware and Wagga United coach Travis Weir is confident the top gong will go to a familiar face from Lake Albert.
“Jaiden was good but I’d have to say Fred Gardner is a chance – he’s been consistent all year,” Weir said.
Leeton’s Mick Doolin thought either Fred or Henri Gardner could be in contention while offering his praise to United defender Prince Thompson.
“I’ve been very impressed with the way Prince has played this year,” Doolin said.
The names of United duo Lincoln Weir and Nazar Yousif were also tossed around but Henwood Park coach Ryan McKenzie doesn’t see a clear winner.
“It’s a pretty open field this year but Lake Albert has been the only consistent team and that’s something to consider,” McKenzie said.
“I think it would be someone in the middle or out back. Ben Angel, for instance, has really helped his team defensively and Lake Albert have barely conceded a goal this year.”
The Football Wagga Gala Night will be held at the Wagga RSL Club on Friday night.
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