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The big Nigerian is a talisman for League 2 strugglers Barnet, and Bees boss Mark McGhee will be hoping that Akinde can overcome his injury fully to fire his side to League away from the dreaded dotted line.
It was a Jamie Vardy-esque rags-to-riches start to Akinde’s career, joining non-leaguers Ebbsfleet United, inhabiting himself in the depths of the English non-league.
In his time below the dreamland of the Football League, Akinde racked up 17 goals for Ebbsfleet and Whitstable, with an unsuccessful loan spell at Margate in between. By 2008, the Nigerian had broken into the realms of the Football League, attempting to continue his ascent up the pyramid with Bristol City.
However, with four loan periods in three years with the Robins and only 16 appearances to his name, Akinde realised his future lay away from Ashton Gate. In 2011, he felt his future was safe with League 2 new boys Crawley, but in two years with the Red Devils, Akinde only found the net once in 31 appearances.
Nonetheless, Akinde kept pressing. He persevered, and his career has come to life since his slip down the divisions to Alfreton Town, where he eventually put his stamp on the game of football. Barnet snapped him up after 18 goals in 43 games, and the Nigerian has gone on to score 83 goals for the north Londoners, placing him at the top of the League Two goal scoring charts for the past two seasons, also becoming the Bees’ highest ever league goal scorer on April 22 2017 with 48 League goals.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Standing at 6 foot 2 inches and weighing in at 82kg, his size makes the Barnet boy the perfect target man; and the long ball game that Barnet play is the ideal play style for Akinde to adapt to.
His aerial ability and super human strength add to his physical prowess, and after two years at the top of the League 2 scoring tables it almost seems fitting now for Akinde to leave The Hive, with Barnet looking doomed at the foot of the Football League.
Although the word is that big men aren’t good with their feet and fairly immobile, the opposite can be said of Akinde. Despite not being rapid, he has good pace due to long strides and his ball control when bringing down a long ball is second to none. Be it flick-ons, knock downs, hold up play or a towering header, Akinde is the ultimate target man and deserves his crack at the higher levels of the footballing pyramid.
The only cause for concern would be his disastrous injury record, a pivotal reason in Barnet’s slump to the bottom of League 2, and if a higher tiered club gambles on him then he’d have to be firmly wrapped in cotton wool.
Another con would be his one-on-ones, and his composure in the heat of the situation could be better.
If Barnet do go down in May, it’ll be no surprise if Akinde is sold to raise funds for a rebuild.
What They Say
Martin Allen – Ex-Barnet Manager and columnist
“How no-one has come in for him at Championship level is quite unbelievable.”
Simeon Akinola – Barnet Teammate
“To be getting 20-plus goals in each of the last few seasons is definitely an achievement and training with him, you see the hunger and desire to score goals, to get in the box. It gets to a point where being in the right place at the right time is no longer an accident – it’s savvy and I guess experience as well. It’s about learning off him and trying to improve every day.”