Akpan on QPR, Promotion & Gerrard
In my first column with Africa Football Shop, I look back over a special weekend.
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Sunday’s game, live on Sky Sports, was a clash away to one of our promotion rivals QPR. Loftus Road was where I made my league debut as a 19 year old on loan at Hull City, so returning there brought back some fond memories. However, my focus on Sunday was entirely on the game at hand.
We started well with the high-pressing and wing play that has been so pivotal in our recent turn of form, just as we had the previous week in our defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. This time, however, we didn’t have to deal with being down to 10 men after eight minutes!
As a team we capitalised on the solid start by scoring the first goal with a good header from my centre-midfield partner on the day, Danny Williams. Unfortunately, QPR pegged us back with an equaliser, which was largely down to sloppy defending from us. The game was level at half time but we had looked strong so not much change was needed at the break.
A goal from Alex Pearce and a cracker from Garath McCleary won the game for us in the second half. The lads put in a great shift and we narrowed the gap between us and QPR in the play-off/promotion race.
I was pleased with my performance, coming up against players with Premiership pedigree like Joey Barton and Croatian international Niko Kranjcar, and competing well.
The play-off race is hotting up and we still have all the teams above us to play, so promotion is definitely on the cards. If we can keep the momentum going from now until the end of the season, we could be in for a strong finish and get what we set out to achieve at the beginning of the year.
Personally, I’m working hard and hoping for a strong finish to a season that started out quite frustratingly for me. With my eyes on a Nigeria call up this year, playing games was key for me, so hopefully I can continue in good form in the lead-up to the World Cup and maybe earn a phone call from the NFF!
I always keep an eye on the Premiership and I’m very pleased with my childhood team, Liverpool’s, recent form. Late winners from Steven Gerrard were something I was used to as a youngster watching Liverpool, so to see him score late on in an important win brought a smile to my face. The title race is wide open so I will be watching intently, as should you!