Akinola hopes new format continues

  • West Ham United PL2 drew with Northampton Town in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday
  • The Hammers won a following penalty shootout 3-2 to go home with a bonus point
  • Centre-back Tunji Akinola said he hopes the EFL continues with this season’s blueprint 

Tunji Akinola hopes the experience of this season’s Checkatrade Trophy will benefit West Ham United’s youngsters as they bid to forge a career in the professional game.
The Hammers PL2 outfit performed very well in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw away at League One high-flyers Northampton Town, eventually winning a bonus point on penalties.
Akinola returned to Terry Westley’s starting eleven for the match and said he was pleased to be back in the fold after a number of substitute appearances in recent weeks.
“I’ve been waiting for my chance and working hard in training. The chance came and I thought I did well. Hopefully I can use it as a platform to keep my position in the U23 team and keep playing well for them,” he said.
“We played well all throughout the game and actually played better football than them.”
After losing their opening two Checktatrade Trophy matches this season, the Hammers were already out of the competition, but they started the match on the front foot.
Despite going behind after Harry Beautyman’s low drive, they equalised just before half-time when Djair Parfitt-Williams finished brilliantly for his first of the season.
In the second half, the Hammers again looked the more comfortable of the two sides and probably should have took all three points.
Marcus Browne, Moses Makasi, Dan Kemp and Hector-Ingram all went close in the second 45, before a penalty shootout ensued to see which side would take home the bonus point.
Dan Kemp scored the Hammers fourth spot-kick meaning that the Cobblers’ John-Joe O’Toole had to score his penalty to keep the home side in the contest.
He blazed his strike over the bar, meaning the Hammers finished third in Southern Group D, and Akinola said afterwards he hopes the EFL continues with the same format of the Trophy competition next season.
“It’s been brilliant. Usually in our games programme we play against boys the same age as us and in U21, U23 football a lot of teams like to play out from the back,” he added.
“But when you play against men, they have to win. It gives us a different challenge. It’s good to deal with aerial balls and try and be physical and match them.
“I think in terms of that, it’s a great experience and I hope they carry it on next year because it exposes young players to something we don’t normally get every week.”