Jason Oswell: Best striker in the Welsh Premier League?
As we pass matchday 27 in the Welsh Premier League, Newtown striker Jason Oswell leads the goal scoring charts with 16 goals to his name. With Mike Hayes, Greg Draper and Alex Darlington hot on his tail, is the 24 year-old the best forward currently in the division?
As we approached the end of Phase One, Newtown seemed dead and buried in the Welsh Premier League relegation zone. Bereft of hope, performances not turning into points, Chris Hughes’ side’s shock fall from grace looked destined to end in relegation. However, forward Jason Oswell had other ideas. His goals have gallantly led the mid Wales side from the cusp of relegation, to the Welsh Premier League European play-offs.
With seven goals since the start of Phase Two, Oswell has given himself a three goal lead at the top of the goal scoring charts. But a debate amongst fans is whether or not Oswell’s stats correlate to being the best striker the Welsh Premier League has to offer.
A summer of turnover at Bangor City has already seen former Football League players Michael Higdon, Daniel Nardiello and even former Premier League striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher arrive at the Bangor University Stadium. With Greg Draper still amongst the goals, Chris Venables at high flying Bala Town and Alex Darlington emerging as a serious goal threat for The New Saints, it would be hard to conceive that Oswell would be the league’s best.
However, stats don’t lie. Oswell in 27 games has 16 goals. And what crucial goals they have been. With Newtown faced with the prospect of relegation, the frontman has guided his club to security and towards the much coveted seventh spot, which offers the hope of Europe that Newtown have been so accustomed to in recent seasons.
Seven goals since the turn of the year for a club struggling for points is no mean feat and it is one that has catapulted the former Airbus striker to the top of the charts.
Close behind are Mike Hayes, Alex Darlington, Greg Draper and Daniel Nardiello.
Oswell v Hayes
Hayes has been a consistent striker in the Welsh Premier League for a number of years. However, this year has been his most stellar year to date with 13 league goals to his name. Having netted 11 twice before, once with Airbus in 2011/12 and with gap Connah’s Quay in 2013/14, it is safe to say the forward is on for his best season to date. Whilst Hayes has made the Top Six in the majority of his seasons in the division, meaning tougher games to score in in Phase Two, Oswell has had it easier with his bottom six fixtures. But, what Oswell has over his Bala Town counterpart is age and consistency. Hayes has made double figures just twice in five seasons and has been in the league for a longer period than Oswell. With age on his side, and more goals this season already, Oswell comes out on top.
Oswell v Darlington
Whilst he may have the benefit of experience and game time on his side, Darlington has never put up the goal numbers that Oswell is putting up this year. Operating as a number ten or as a striker, Darlington is not the out and out forward his Newtown opponent is. However, Darlington has scored some key goals in key games for the Welsh Premier League champions this year, in a tougher Top Six than ever before. Whilst it is arguable that 13 goals from the number ten position is equally as impressive, his goals have come in a side rampant and far superior to their competitors. In comparison, Oswell’s 16 goals have lifted his side out of the drop zone and to consolidation, goals of more value to his side.
Oswell v Draper
A much tougher one v one, as this season’s hottest property is compared to one of the league’s most consistent, and reliable strikers. On any given day, it would be easy to name Draper as the more successful of the two strikers. But, when we analyse the stats, as individuals, Oswell has done just as much as the TNS frontman. Three years his junior, Oswell has not been a regular striker in the division for as long as the New Zealander. With 21 goals in his debut season, and then 16 two seasons later, Draper made a flying start to his career in Wales. However, Oswell was the league’s second top scorer in 2014/15 with 18 goals, one ahead of the once capped international striker, before notching ten last year, beating Draper once more. Despite the fact Draper has had to settle for more time on the bench this season than previously, Oswell again comes out on top in the charts with three goals more in his tough season with the Robins. Taking into consideration age and goals, Oswell just about nicks this one.
Oswell v Nardiello
A relatively inexperienced footballer compared to a once capped Welsh international generally seems like no competition, however the very fact Oswell has netted more goals than the one time Welsh international Daniel Nardiello speaks volumes about the Newtown striker. With three more goals, in a confidence stricken side, Oswell has done extremely well to get his tally of goals. Nardiello has himself come into a difficult situation at Bangor City, and a managerial change halfway through a season is not easy to deal with. However, when you compare the experience and ability of the two, you’d always bank on Nardiello to bag more than the English forward. However, time and time again this season Oswell has proven his worth to the club and his ability to bag goals consistently. Whilst there is still time for Nardiello to catch him in the goal charts, Oswell wins this one.
At just 24 years-old, Oswell is making something of a name for himself at Newtown. Under Chris Hughes’ leadership, the forward is making finding the back of the net something of a formality. With 3/4 of the season gone, and 16 goals to his name, you’d expect the striker to maybe even hit 20 before the season’s end. Competition for the biggest and best striker in the league is rife, but right now, you’d be hard found to find a better striker than Jason Oswell right now.