The Player of the Month and Manager of the Month award winners for the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two have been announced.
Sky Bet Championship
Manager of the Month: Dean Smith (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is the unsurprising Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for March after a perfect month and maximum 15 points from five games included wins over three Midlands rivals - Derby, Nottingham Forest and, of course, Birmingham.
Smith said: “I’m delighted to have been named Manager of the Month – it’s a reward for all the staff here at Aston Villa. We’ve had a good month and we now need to make sure we keep it going.”
George Burley chairs the Sky Bet Manager of the Month judging panel.
He said: “Dean is ‘Villa’ through and through and that means the results achieved in February will be even more satisfying.
“Aston Villa won all five of their matches in the month, scoring 13 goals and conceding only two. Wins against three Midlands rivals while climbing into the Play-Off places were the icing on the cake.”
Player of the Month: Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United)
Rotherham United midfielder Semi Ajayi scored five goals in five games, three courtesy of prodigious leaps and flying headers, and two immaculately timed low shots.
Ajayi said: “It is a massive honour, and it is something I am really pleased to receive. I have to say though that the award is a team effort, I wouldn't be in the position to collect the award without my team mates.
“During the month we performed well in a number of games, picking up some vital points. It was a good all round team effort. I am also hugely grateful to the staff, who have been brilliant.
"It was a good month, and to be given the award ahead of some very stiff opposition is even more pleasing.
“The season is coming to a close now, but from a team perspective we are still fighting hard to keep this club in The Championship, and from a personal point of view this will also give me confidence going into the remaining games this season.”
Sky Bet League One
Manager of the Month: Mick Harford (Luton Town)
Under manager Mick Harford Luton Town have continued their charge towards automatic promotion with a 14-point haul from six unbeaten matches.
Harford said: “It’s an honour to accept the award on behalf of the football club, and that’s what it is – it’s for the football club.
“When I took the role I wasn’t in it for any self-gratification, it was a case of coming in to help the football club and try to put it in a better place. I think that we as a group have achieved that.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank the board for supporting myself and the staff. I’d like to thank my staff, who have been amazing and worked tirelessly over the last few months.
“But mainly, this award that I am accepting on behalf of the football club, is mostly down to the players. They have been absolutely amazing in the period that I’ve been in charge, so I’d like to give them a big thank you.”
Player of the Month: Jonson Clarke-Harris (Bristol Rovers)
Bristol Rovers striker Jonson Clarke-Harris has scored eight goals and an assist in March – and what goals. Long-range screamers against Gillingham and Plymouth, a breathtaking solo effort against Luton and a hat-trick against Blackpool. Pace, power and hold-up play added up to a stellar month.
Clarke-Harris said: “I’m enjoying my football. I’ve come here to score goals, help the lads out and feel like I have done that.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “March was the month when Clarke-Harris proved what a fantastic finisher he is and simultaneously dragged Rovers away from the relegation zone with some vital goals in big wins.
“Clarke-Harris had an innocuous start to the season at his previous club Coventry City, scoring just five times before moving to the South West in January, but he’s been a revelation for the Gas.”
Sky Bet League Two
Manager of the Month: Micky Mellon (Tranmere Rovers)
Tranmere Rovers manager Micky Mellon has timed his side’s automatic promotion push to perfection. Five wins from five games, an 11-1 goal differential and entertaining play aplenty has his players bursting with confidence and crowds flocking to Prenton Park.
Mellon said: “I always worry about the title of this award because it looks like it is solely just me. I really mean this, it is an entire group effort, including everyone at the Club and the fans.
“We had a fantastic month, it is a whole group reward for a lot of work that went on in a difficult month (March), we got results from good performances. So, it is a great reward for everyone. Well done to all.”
George Burley said: “Micky has really got Tranmere ticking during one of the most important periods of the season.
“A perfect 15 points from five matches - with his exciting team scoring 11 goals and conceding only one - has brought the feel good factor back to Prenton Park.”
Player of the Month: Reece Brown (Forest Green)
Forest Green midfielder Reece Brown is in the form of his life and determined to help Forest Green clinch a Play-Off berth.
Given free rein to roam, he was directly involved in every one of their seven goals in March, scoring five himself, including a fine free-kick against Lincoln.
Brown said: “I’m happy to receive the award. I think I was nominated once earlier in the season and didn’t quite get it done, I didn’t score enough goals, but I am happy to get it now.
“I felt like each game we went into, I just went in thinking I could score again. Once you get one or two, you just get that little feeling. It was a good month, it was my birthday month as well and this is the best present I could have got.
“Once you’ve got those goals, you just seem to get yourself in those areas where the opportunity can be presented to you and luckily I could put them away.
“That’s all we want now with five games to go, possibly another three, and hopefully we’re promoted and playing in League One next season.”
The judging panel for the Sky Bet Player of the Month comprises Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman; EFL Communications Director Mark Rowan, League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet EFL trader Ivor Davies.