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KentOnline team-of-the-year 2017/18

By KentOnline reporter

It's been a great season for goalscorers in Kent and that's reflected in our selections for team-of-the-year.

There was so much debate in the office that we've named four strikers in our XI and another two on the bench.

It's an attacking philosophy which was also favoured this season by the man we've named as our KOL manager-of-the-year.

Team of the Year 2017/18
Team of the Year 2017/18

Folkestone Invicta were fighting relegation on the final day of last season but Neil Cugley surpassed all expectations by leading them to fourth in Bostik Premier this time around. Cugley's side scored 104 league goals and reached the Kent Senior Cup final, eventually losing on penalties. Invicta were also beaten in the play-offs, leading Cugley to brand them 'the nearly men', but they certainly provided plenty of entertainment along the way.

There were two outstanding candidates in goal but Nathan Ashmore got the nod after helping newly-promoted Ebbsfleet United reach the National League play-offs. Ashmore's stunning form in the early months of the campaign attracted interest from EFL clubs but Fleet rejected bids in January and reaped the reward as Ashmore's saves helped them earn enough points to break into the top seven.

Ebbsfleet goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore Picture: Andy Payton
Ebbsfleet goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore Picture: Andy Payton

Gabriel Zakuani was a steadying figure at the back for Gillingham as their defensive record improved from the worst in League 1 to the seventh-best. The DR Congo international performed consistently well as the Gills finished six points clear of the bottom four.

Alongside him we've gone for Callum Davies, who swept the board at Folkestone's end-of-season awards bash. Davies, a former Gills youngster, showed his class as Invicta shrugged off the departure of long-serving centre-halves Liam Friend and Frankie Chappell to sustain a promotion push.

Giancarlo Gallifuoco turned out to be one of the signings of the season at Dover Athletic. The versatile Australian slotted seamlessly into National League football and scored on the final day of the season as Whites were cruelly denied a play-off place on goal-difference.

Giancarlo Gallifuoco on the ball for Dover Picture: Tony Flashman
Giancarlo Gallifuoco on the ball for Dover Picture: Tony Flashman

The one survivor from team-of-the-year 12 months ago is Stuart Lewis, whose all-energy midfield displays - not to mention some vital goals - helped Maidstone United avoid relegation.

Dean Rance enjoyed the best season of his career and was one of the key factors behind Ebbsfleet's excellent campaign, mixing defensive steel with key contributions in the final third.

It was like Joe Healy had never been away as he returned to Welling United with a series of spectacular goals - including one from the halfway line! - on his way to scooping a clean sweep at the club's end of season awards.

Kane Rowland forced his way into our frontline by scoring 22 goals for Sittingbourne in Bostik South. The fact he did it all with a hernia problem meant we couldn't leave him out.

Dartford striker Alfie Pavey Picture: Andy Payton
Dartford striker Alfie Pavey Picture: Andy Payton

Released by Millwall last summer, Alfie Pavey reminded us of his quality by finding the net 26 times for Dartford. He not only won four of the club's awards but was also voted National League South player-of-the-year and displayed such a penchant for late winners the phrase 'Pavey time' was coined.

Ade Yusuff signed for Folkestone last summer and it turned out to be an inspired acquisition by Neil Cugley as the former Dagenham man scored 30 goals in all competitions.

Also in Bostik Premier, Jordan Chiedozie helped himself to 29 goals in Steve Watt's first full season in charge of Margate.

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