Dominic McHale is taking the plaudits for Gloucester City’s season, but there’s another player whose had a bigger impact.

With just eight games remaining of the season, Gloucester City sit level on points with Chorley, with just a dotted line keeping them out of the play-offs.

Since Steven King’s arrival to the TigerTurf Stadium, the side have navigated their way through an injury plagued season up until Saturday’s 3-0 win away to fifth place Scarborough Athletic, a win which has inspired belief throughout the fanbase.

Over time we have seen King shape the squad to suit his style of football, bringing in the likes of Dominic McHale, Junior Tiensia, Tope Obadeyi and Jacob Agyepong to name a few.

While it has been a terrific team effort this season, one man will stand out above the rest for his contributions, and with five team of the week awards and 12 goals in 22 games, it’s hard to say McHale won’t be the favourite for the club’s player of the season award.

However, I feel that there is another player who can be the key in King’s chase for promotion, in 20-year-old striker Kieran Phillips.

After being released in the summer by boyhood club Bristol Rovers, former City manager Lee Mansell re-united with his former pupil from Rovers’ academy.

Unfortunately, it took some time for Phillips to adjust, making just four starts in Mansell’s final 10 games at the club and failing to find the net.

For that reason, Phillips would have been all the more frustrated when he picked up a two-month ankle injury immediately after scoring six goals in King’s first four league games.

One of the hardest things for a striker, especially a young one, is to pick up where they left off after coming back from injury. For Phillips though, he was back on the scoresheet in his first start in a 5-1 hammering over Bradford Park Avenue.

Since then, his nine goals in nine games have helped the Tigers get back to their best and they’re now purring just in time for the business end of the season.

Many fans will feel that Phillips shows signs of similarity to former striker Matt McClure, in the way he is equally dangerous with both feet, always finding space in the box, and constantly running off the ball to create space for others while providing an occasional assist.

The underlying stats also read well for Phillips, with a goal every 118 minutes, he is currently ranked as the deadliest forward in the league.

Furthermore, when Phillips is in the starting XI, King’s win ratio is an impressive 61%. While without Phillips, the number is reduced to 30%.

It is already a mystery as to why Phillips was ever allowed to leave Rovers for free at 19-years-old, but with the way he has been playing this season, it is not a stretch to say that within a few years, he will be back playing at that level or beyond.

For now though, it’s the City fans who get to enjoy his goals for this season and if he’s able to keep up his great form, they can expect a exciting end to the season.

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