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Toepoker

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    Ayr United

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  1. Tonight’s game against Pollok will at once be a completely new experience and a blast from the past for Dipo Akinyemi. The third-round tie at Somerset Park is the English striker’s first Scottish Cup assignment since moving north this summer, but he knows exactly how the West of Scotland Premier Division side will be approaching their visit to the Championship leaders. With 14 goals to his name already, Akineymi has been tearing it up in Scotland’s second tier and seems destined for a bigger stage whether with or without his present employers, but most of his career to date has been spent knocking around the nether regions of the English pyramid with such luminaries as as Potters Bar Town, Aldershot, St Neots Town, Dulwich Hamlet (three separate spells), St Albans City and Billericay Town. There’s more: Bishop’s Stortford, Cheshunt, Braintree Town, Welling United. Many of those years — during which he also worked as a delivery driver — brought tilts at the early rounds of the FA Cup, which means that Akinyemi is well aware of the liberation that can come from having nothing to lose. “I’ve been where Pollok are, many a time,” he acknowledged. “When I was playing non-League in England, we were always the underdog, having to go through preliminary rounds and stuff like that. Pollok will be coming here thinking they can give it a real go and see what happens. I remember one game with St Albans against Carlisle United [in 2016], where we were winning and they had to come from behind to beat us [5-3]. The bigger team can be in trouble if they’re not right on their game in these matches. “We’re obviously the bigger team in this one, but it doesn’t change anything really. We just have to make sure we put them to bed quickly. We have to keep doing what we’re doing. Scoring goals and playing well. Once we show our fitness and our class, we should be all right.” Akinyemi — a powerful, athletic but also technically adept centre forward — has thrived since Lee Bullen moved for him in June. With Tomi Adeloye, last season’s top scorer, having been picked up by League Two Swindon Town, there were big shoes to fill, but Akinyemi’s 16 goals in 34 games for Welling last time out suggested he had the raw materials. Bullen, Graeme Mathie, Ayr’s managing director, and Keith Glendinning, their head of recruitment, were not put off by the itinerant nature of Akinyemi’s career path, while background checks told of a character who was in a better headspace to make the most of a full-time opportunity than had been the case in his early days with Stevenage (who loaned him out seven times in three years). “I wouldn’t say I saw this as my last chance to crack full-time football, because you look at people like Jamie Vardy progressing at a later stage. But Scotland was a chance to get to a completely different environment, get away from many distractions down south and really focus on football,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it was a case of not applying myself in the past, more that I was a bit young and naive with some of the chances I was given. Also, I had a few difficulties with different managers. I wouldn’t say my attitude was bad, but I had things like not playing regularly, stuff like that. You end up going on loan to a lot of different teams which looks a bit weird, but I think it’s moulded me into the player I am. I’ve played a lot of games and come here with a decent amount of football experience. “It’s a great education down there [in non-league]: there are people who are playing to feed their families. You are coming up against men who will kick you up the park, and you have to grow up quickly. But once you’ve had a sniff of full-time football, as I did at 18/19 at Stevenage, you crave being that again. When I was in non-league for a while, I would say it was like an exile period to get myself mentally right, and now hopefully I can kick on.” Bullen’s preference for playing two up front has allowed Akinyemi to bring to bear the strongest suits in his game, but he points to something more fundamental when you ask why it has clicked for him at Ayr in a way that proved so elusive elsewhere. “I think the fact that everyone believes in me here is really important,” Akinyemi said. “ I get to train every day, there’s a good bunch of lads we have in the changing room, a mix of Scottish and English boys. I feel comfortable here, and when you’re comfortable you play your best football. “We play with two strikers, we both feed off each other. I might pop into the pockets a bit, I might stretch the game, we play off each other. The formation and system we are playing is really working, for the team and for me personally. I know that a few strikers, like [Lawrence] Shankland and [Kevin] Nisbet have come here, done well and gone on to have good careers after it. I spoke to a few friends about the opportunity and it became a no-brainer.” Akinyemi — whose parents are Nigerian — grew up in Enfield, North London. He and partner Sandra now have a son of their own, 19-month-old Zane, and the fact the domestic settling-in has gone equally well thus far in Scotland means he will think long and hard should other clubs come calling in January. Akinyemi is already in no doubt about just how much he would be giving up. “You want to play somewhere you are comfortable, somewhere where you can feel at home. I’ve got a family too, and I have to take those factors into consideration as well. I won’t just be upping and leaving straight away,” he said. As long as the goals keep coming, so will the attention, however. Akinyemi concedes he is “close, very close” to his private target for the season, and doesn’t exactly shout you down when you ask whether the arrival of a non-league team might see his eyes light up. “This year, the goals I’ve scored both here and down south, it’s been the best scoring form I’ve had. I just hope to keep the standards up and continue scoring. I guess so [your eyes light up], but you can’t go into this sort of game naively. I’ve watched Pollok’s game against Annan [a 4-3 win in the previous round] and they played very well. We’ve just got to make sure we are professional and we don’t get turned over. “In terms of my goal target, I’m probably going to have to reset it now, hopefully very soon. I don’t want to jinx it, though.” Ayr United v Pollok today, 7.45pm, Scottish Cup third round, Somerset Park TV BBC Scotland
  2. Dipo's photo in the Times this morning. A study in how to control the ball despite the close attention of 2 Inverness players.
  3. BBC Sportsound thought it was a penalty, also Betfair suspended the match betting market for a possible penalty.
  4. I note that Dipo's feat on Saturday was actually a perfect hat trick. A header, then left foot then right foot. I don't recall ever seeing that before.
  5. Here is my response to the questionnaire on kick off times on the club's website:- I can attend matches at 12.45pm or 3.00pm so the time change does not affect my ability to attend matches. I often stream matches which I cannot attend, so would actually prefer a 12.45pm kick off with steaming being available. A 12.45 pm kick off will save the club money by not requiring floodlights, so a 12.45pm kick off is my preferred option.
  6. Ayr United in the Times this morning:- ‘Dad went into cardiac arrest – Ayr supporters gave him a chance he wouldn’t have had’ | Scotland | The Times
  7. Swindon Town say “Tomi Adeloye has had a scan, and that came back showing a tear – a grade two tear – so that will rule him out for probably four to six weeks.'' “It’s one of those things where it’s probably down to deconditioning more than anything, so we need to nurture that and make sure he’s conditioned properly so that he’s ready to play and be on the pitch.”
  8. Interesting pic of the lead up to Ayr's first goal. Dundee's manager thought it should have been a foul to Dundee. Are defenders allowed to hold onto opposition strikers like that?
  9. The McLeod Stand gives Ally the status he deserves. Let Cameron have the bar.
  10. Lawrence Shankland decided to stay an extra year with Ayr in 2018-19 when he was 22 and would have been offered more money to go elsewhere. During that extra year with Ayr, Shankland scored 34 goals and went on the following year to excel in the Premier League with another club and to eventually play for Scotland. McInroy could decide that his best option is to stay with Ayr in 2022-23, where he knows the players and coaching staff, and then move on when the offers come in for the 2023-24 season.
  11. The Sunday Express has the story as well:- SNP MP Mhairi Black caught on camera breaking the ScotRail booze ban - Scottish Daily Express
  12. Apparently Mhairi Black supports Partick Thistle and was at Somerset Park to watch the match on Friday night. What happened on the train back to Glasgow makes the Sunday Papers today:- SNP MP Mhairi Black apologies for flouting Scottish train booze ban | Scotland | The Sunday Times (thetimes.co.uk)
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