The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

BAR­NET man­ager Martin Allen is more than happy if op­po­si­tion clubs think striker John Akinde is ‘pants’ – be­cause he knows dif­fer­ent.

Akinde be­came the first Bar­net goalscorer in League football at The Hive when he net­ted both goals in the 2-0 mid­week tri­umph against pre­vi­ously un­beaten Northamp­ton Town.

And Allen be­lieves that the pow­er­ful front man is now ready to ful­fil the tal­ent that first marked him out as one to watch when he moved from Ebb­s­fleet United to Bristol City for £140,000 in 2008.

Since then the 6ft 2ins for­ward has done the rounds with spells at Crawley, Portsmouth and Al­fre­ton, plus loans at Wy­combe (two), Brent­ford, Bristol Rovers and Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge (two). Eigh­teen goals in the Con­fer­ence with Al­fre­ton in 2013-14 re­minded ev­ery­one of his abil­ity, but it was last sea­son with Bar­net that he re­ally came to the fore. A mam­moth to­tal of 31 league goals helped Bar­net take the Con­fer­ence ti­tle.

A penalty in the Bees’ shock 2-1 win at Mill­wall in the Cap­i­tal One Cup got him off the mark this sea­son and his dou­ble against the Cob­blers, with one from the spot, added to the mo­men­tum.

But Allen, who swooped for striker Aaron McLean, 32, in mid­week, be­lieves that League clubs may still be un­aware of Akinde’s im­prove­ment.

The 50-year-old said:“Ev­ery­one thinks that af­ter his spell in the league with all those dif­fer­ent clubs he’s pretty pants, which is quite funny re­ally. I can’t wait to play teams be­cause I’ve seen him. He had a tricky spell in League football, but now he’s a dif­fer­ent player and per­son. He ab­so­lutely ter­rorises de­fences.”


And the for­merWest Ham midfielder be­lieves he’s the right man to get the best out of Akinde – even if it gets the striker’s back up.

“I don’t think he likes me be­cause I’m al­ways on his case, de­mand­ing and driv­ing him to do more,to do bet­ter – and he will,” he said.“He will reap the ben­e­fits. He was Con­fer­ence player of the year last year be­cause he’s got that abil­ity to do spe­cial stuff.”

Another player that caught the eye against Northamp­ton was pint-sized winger Luke Gam­bin,who came on just be­fore the hour and caused panic in the Cob­blers’ rear­guard with his di­rect run­ning and drib­bling abil­ity.

It was Gam­bin’s lung-burst­ing run for­ward and pass to Akinde that caused Town’s Jason Tay­lor to foul the striker, con­cede a penalty and earn a red card. Akinde tucked away the spot-kick to break the dead­lock and the Bees were on their way.

Allen said: “He was in the shadow of Luisma Villa (who has re­turned to Spain) be­fore but we will get more and more out of him. He’s got great abil­ity and can change games.”

While es­tab­lish­ing him­self in the Bar­net team is the mod­est 22year-old’s main am­bi­tion, he is also dream­ing of play­ing in­ter­na­tional football for Malta. The Sut­ton-born winger with a Mal­tese grand­fa­ther ad­mit­ted he thought it was an Allen wind-up when he first heard about Malta’s in­ter­est.

“The gaffer called me in one morn­ing and I thought he was play­ing a game with me, but it was all true,” he said. “I scored two against Dover and they’d no­ticed my name of Mal­tese de­cent on Sky Sports. I went away in the sum­mer to a train­ing camp and met the Mal­tese squad, and I re­ally en­joyed it. It’s a work in progress so I’ll just have to wait and see, but it could be a great op­por­tu­nity.”

PIC­TURE: Ben An­gel

SHOOT­ING STAR: John Akinde pro­vides Bar­net’s main goal threat

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