Hiram Boateng

ROUND-UP: Africans in the Football League

It was a case of quick starts and late drama across the Football League, as Africans once again played key roles as their club’s league campaigns build momentum.

It was Wolverhampton Wanderers who featured heavy African involvement in their fixture, with Benik Afobe‘s brace helping secure a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Huddersfield. Nigerian Dominic Iorfa was a handful for the hosts, while Afobe set up Sheyi Ojo who hit the crossbar. Afobe was denied from outside the box, before making it 2-0 moments later, having scored once in five appearances. However, he added to that with an 88th-minute strike sealing the win. Mustapha Carayol had a good spell in the first half for Huddersfield, but couldn’t find the net.

Wolves boss Kenny Jackett told BBC Sport: “He (Afobe) is the type of player that you want to get on the ball as much as you can.

“He has been a big player for us and he has only been here since January (following a £2m move from Arsenal).

“We think he has a really good future at 22 and also he has got his confidence at Wolves, which is what he was looking for when he came here. He has to continue his progress.”

Birmingham had two goals scored by Africans also, but from Jacques Maghoma and Demarai Gray. The latter missed his first effort after six minutes, but made up for that with the opener after 30, missing another opportunity after the break and being replaced by Viv Solomon-Otabor. Maghoma was introduced for the Blues and later latched onto a loose ball to make it 2-0 and take the points from hosts, Leeds. Sol Bamba should have headed Leeds level in the second half with a header going narrowly wide, before doing similar in the dying moments of the game.

Mohamed Diame‘s header was saved after six minutes, following a cross from Ahmed Elmohamady as Hull City travelled to Nottingham Forest. Diame then followed up by striking the bar from 25-yards, before being replaced by Sone Aluko, with just 20 minutes remaining, as Hull won 1-0 at the City ground.

Jonathan Kodjia strengthened his position at the top of the scoring charts for Bristol City, in their 1-1 draw at home to MK Dons. The Ivorian tapped into an empty net from a cross after just six minutes, to take his tally to six for the season. He also found space down the left just before half-time, but teammate Luke Freeman couldn’t convert his cross. Kodjia was denied twice, once at the end of each half, as they surrended two points, with Dons scoring in the final minute.

Brighton could have been four points clear at the top of the Championship had Elvis Manu managed to get on the end of a cross, however, had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw at home to Cardiff City.

Charlton’s fortunes at home to fellow Londoners Fulham could have been changed had El-Hadji Ba‘s effort not been saved. But Fulham were sure to not let their lead slip, and duly doubled their lead minutes later, winning 2-0 at The Valley.

Hope Akpan won Blackburn Rovers a penalty after 11 minutes, having been fouled by Ipswich’s Larsen Toure and the resultant spot kick was converted. Toure was subsequently booked for another fould shortly afterwards, as Akpan’s Rovers side won 2-0 at home to the Tractor Boys, but still moved down to 15th.

Over into League One and it was Port Vale’s Enoch Andoh who was quick out of the blocks, seeing his shot saved early on and another as the half wore on against Sheffield United. Uche Ikpeazu, Vale’s top scorer with five goals, could have given his side the lead, with a header from close range sailing over the bar. However, he got his goal a minute before the interval, firing his shot in via the underside of the crossbar. A late Blades goal was to be nothing more than a consolation, as Vale won 2-1.

Souleymane Coulibaly was subbed at half time due to injury in Peterborough’s 5-3 home victory over Millwall. Having fallen 2-0 down at Peterborough, Fred Onyedinma piled on the pressure, as the Lions looked for an equaliser, having got back to 2-1, and provided the cross that made it 2-2 and brought Millwall right back into the game. Onyedinma continued to test Posh, while Nadjim Abdou‘s day was cut short after four minutes, due to injury.

Doncaster could have taken the lead within the first ten minutes against Yorkshire rivals, Barnsley, Cedric Evina missing two chances. Barnsley got back level with tweny minutes to go, as Rovers had taken the lead. Reece Wabara had his shot saved, a shot that would have been enough to earn his side a point, as Rovers scored a late goal to win 2-1 at the Keepmoat.

Abu Ogogo, Sullay Kaikai and Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro were all on the wrong side of a defeat that saw Shrewsbury lose 3-0 at Coventry City.

League Two had two games with two late goals, with the first in Mansfield’s entertaining 4-3 victory at Dagenham and Redbridge. Adi Yussuf was introduced after 38 minutes, due to an injury to a teammate, but did more than just fill the void. His 84th-minute winner ensured Mansfield a place in the play-off positions. Meanwhile, Dagenham’s Ayo Obileye missed a late header that would have been enough for a point.

Hiram Boateng was the other late hero, pouncing on a loose ball after Crawley’s Freddie Woodman couldn’t keep out a 25-yard Plymouth freekick. He saw two efforts denied either side of half time, but his late strike was enough to seal a 2-1 win at home to the Red Devils.

Adebayo Azeez stepped up in the absence of Adebayo Akinfenwa for AFC Wimbledon, firstly making his mark with a difficult shot after 20 minutes, narrowly missing the target. His hard work clearly got to the opposition, Barnet, as he won his side a penalty, but the resultant penalty was missed and so did Azeez with another effort with 15 minutes to go. But that was not to matter, as Dons saw off Barnet 2-0 on home turf.

Newport County would have been thrilled with a late winner at home to Exeter, with the win a chance to move them off the bottom of the table, at least. But Medy Elito‘s shot went just wide as Newport waved away two points.

AFS STAR MAN OF THE WEEK: HIRAM BOATENG

 

 

 

 

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