AKINDE IS NOT PANTS – ALLEN
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.”
SHOOTING STAR: John Akinde provides Barnet’s main goal threat