IRON CHAL­LENGE

Scun­thorpe winger Ha­keeb Ade­lakun looks ahead to their FA Cup derby

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

FOR those un­aware of the skills of Scun­thorpe winger Ha­keeb Ade­lakun, his FA Cup goal against Northamp­ton Town was an eye-opener.

The 21-year-old went on a run to­wards the Cob­blers’ penalty area and then, from the right hand side, ri­fled a bul­let of a shot into the top cor­ner from the edge of the box.

Fit­tingly, it proved the only goal of the first-round re­play, earn­ing in-form Iron their sec­ond round derby date at Don­caster this af­ter­noon.

It also proved a turn­ing point for Ade­lakun.

It was his first goal of the sea­son and his sec­ond, a 20yard free-kick which gave Scun­thorpe a 2-1 win at fel­low pro­mo­tion-chasers Brad­ford, soon fol­lowed.

In be­tween those two games, he set up all three goals in a vir­tu­oso dis­play in which the Iron despatched Northamp­ton in League One.

“I don’t think I’ve hit a ball as well as that,” said Ade­lakun of his Cup strike. “It was my first goal of the sea­son and I was get­ting a bit anx­ious.

“Now I’m get­ting more op­por­tu­ni­ties and I’m try­ing to ex­press my­self and play more freely, things are com­ing off.”

Like Ade­lakun, Scun­thorpe are in good form at present, though they won’t take Don­caster for granted this af­ter­noon.

Pres­sure

In mid-Septem­ber, Lee No­vak’s goal earned Graham Alexan­der’s men a hard­fought 1-0 vic­tory in League One, though Donny got a mea­sure of re­venge with a 3-2 penalty shoot-out win in a Check­a­trade Tro­phy group game af­ter a 1-1 draw at the end of Oc­to­ber.

a strong team, it’s a derby and there will be a crazy at­mos­phere,” said Ade­lakun. “It’s prob­a­bly best for us to see it as just an­other game and put no pres­sure on it.”

How­ever, that might be dif­fi­cult, given that win­ning through to the third round could earn a plum tie against one of the na­tion’s giants.

If suc­cess­ful, Ade­lakun knows who he wants. The Hack­ney-born flyer said: “Grow­ing up, I al­ways sup­ported Arse­nal and Thierry Henry was my favourite player. That’s some­where I want to play one day.

Spe­cial

“We played at Chelsea a cou­ple of years ago (Scun­thorpe lost 2-0) and the whole day and just go­ing there was some­thing spe­cial. Com­ing on as a sub was great and you want to have those days as of­ten as you can. “If we can get through and get a big draw, it would be great for ev­ery­one.” Af­ter spend­ing time with both Crys“They’re

tal Palace and West Ham as a young­ster, Ade­lakun had to head north to Scun­thorpe to make his break­through.

He made his de­but as a 16year-old and has now racked up al­most 150 ap­pear­ances for the Iron, al­beit with more than half off the bench.

For some­one just 21, he’s al­ready got bags of ex­pe­ri­ence. Per­haps now he’s ready to move to the next level.

“The first cou­ple of years went so quickly,” he said. “Look­ing back, I’m think­ing ‘where did it go?’. I didn’t re­ally take it in at 17-18. Time flew by.

“Now I’m get­ting to grips with things. The last year has been full-on and I’ve started to take on a lot of in­for­ma­tion and learn more about the game on and off the pitch.

“There’s still lots more to learn, but I’m en­joy­ing it more now.” Ade­lakun has a League Two pro­mowere tion un­der his belt from 201314 and came close to reach­ing the Cham­pi­onship last term.

Scun­thorpe were in the thick of the pro­mo­tion bat­tle for much of the sea­son and, ul­ti­mately, lost in the League One play-off semi-fi­nals to Mill­wall, who went on to win pro­mo­tion at Wem­b­ley.

Ex­pec­ta­tions

Some thought they might strug­gle to match those achieve­ments this term, but six straight league wins – the lat­ter a 2-0 suc­cess against Charlton – have lifted them to third and put them in the hunt again. Not that it’s sur­prised Ade­lakun, who would love to test him­self in English football’s sec­ond tier next term.

“I al­ways thought we would do well,” he said. “With the play­ers we brought in, I could see we had a good squad and I had high ex­pec­ta­tions.

“We had a lit­tle run when we strug­gling, but we stayed to­gether and it’s amaz­ing how quickly things turn around.

“I want to help the team achieve the target we set – pro­mo­tion. It would be great if we could get into the Cham­pi­onship. Ev­ery­one wants to play as high as they can.

“I would like to hit the heights, maybe the Premier League one day. Now I need to work hard, give it my all and take it a step at a time.”

And he be­lieves highly-rated man­ager Alexan­der can help him to keep im­prov­ing his game.

“He’s strict, but he’s fun,” added Ade­lakun. “The whole team know what we are try­ing to do. On the side­lines, he’s on us all the time and it helps so much.

“Ev­ery week he’s mak­ing sure I have clips to watch and he’s al­ways try­ing to work with me. His door is al­ways open.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HOT-SHOT: Scun­thorpe’s Ha­keeb Ade­lakun tus­sles with Bris­tol Rovers’ El­lis Har­ri­son and, inset, his won­der goal against Northamp­ton

PER­SONAL FAVOURITE: Thierry Henry and, inset, Graham Alexan­der

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