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        John Akinde has his fans, and his critics, at Lincoln City

        Is there more to come from Big John?

        2019/02/26 11:17
        By George Willoughby (Playmaker Club Specialist)

        When you hear the name John Akinde, you think of pace and power, but more importantly, a player who is clinical in front of goal. Yet, with Lincoln City top of League Two and targeting automatic promotion, many Imps fans are asking whether the former Barnet striker is prolific enough...

        Akinde has been around League Two/National League for the majority of his playing career. It’s a level where he has been able to consistently demonstrate why he is one of the best front men in the lower leagues of English football. 

        The 29-year old scored 55 league goals in his last three seasons at Barnet and recorded a plentiful number of assists. The striker is comfortably over the 100-goal mark for his career, so when he arrived at Sincil Bank, the excitement was palpable.

        The Imps, who have been on the receiving end of Akinde’s physical and goal-scoring prowess, got their man at the start of the 2018/19 season but expectations were very high.

        Given John Akinde’s reputation and sizeable wage, it came as no surprise that he had little margin for error occupying the center forward position.

        Now, with Lincoln top of the league and the end of the season in sight, Akinde is still dividing opinion amongst Lincoln fans.

        However, if you look at his current stats, they are immediately impressive: his 10 goals and 5 assists in League Two meaning he has been involved in 25% of the Imps' league goals this term. I would just like to point out though that no player, or manager, is devoid of criticism and I can understand why Lincoln fans have been rather quick to voice their disapproval of the 29-year old.

        Despite that, I think stats and stats alone should not be the sole determinant of judging the ability of a given player. A large part of Akinde’s game, which surprisingly goes unnoticed, is his productivity off the ball. Because of his stature, and record of scoring goals, a lot of his critics base their opinions just on what he does with possession.

        Whether it would be occupying two defenders, or dragging players out of position, Akinde is superb at creating attacking opportunities. As well, when it comes to assisting, he has a very respectable tally so far this season - and his ability to lay on chances for others has undoubtedly given plenty of League Two defences food for thought.

        ©Getty / Jordan Mansfield

        Of course, with any striker, the main role is to find the back of the net. This is where he comes under the most scrutiny, as his 10 league goals have left many fans disillusioned with his ability to convert chances. This is understandable, mainly because he had numerous 20+ goal-scoring seasons in a struggling Barnet side and he hasn’t replicated that with a Lincoln team that is one of the most potent attacking units in the league.

        What is worth considering is that Akinde’s goal tally could turn into a great return with still nearly a quarter of the season left to play. Even more so with the magnitude of each game exacerbating during the run into the closure of the campaign.

        It might be a case of not how many he scores, but the timing of when he scores. I would much prefer him to score a winning goal in a tight game as opposed to scoring a hat-trick in an emphatic win. In this respect, it is worth considering that Akinde has scored more match-winning goals than any Lincoln player in League Two so far this season.

        John Akinde may divide opinion, but certainly from my perspective, Lincoln would not be sitting top of the league if it wasn’t for his performances leading the line. He has contributed to a quarter of Lincoln's goals this season, and his influence off the ball should not be overlooked.

        I, for one, have the upmost confidence in his ability, and it goes without saying that - in tandem with the likes of flying winger Bruno Andrade - the man from Gravesend has a major part to play in Lincoln’s quest for promotion.



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