Young Gun stars but defeats dull the shine

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , sports writer

LOAN striker Benik Afobe admits to feeling mixed emotions over the Christmas period so far at Wanderers.

The young Arsenal frontman came off the bench to score at Peterborough last weekend and almost inspire a dramatic comeback in the 5-4 reverse at London Road.

Then, he started against Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day and was one of the stand-out performers on another miserable day for the Whites, who went down 1-0 at the Reebok.

But while things have gone well on a personal level, and he is happy with his own displays, he concedes it counts for little when the team do not win.

Afobe said: “Every footballer wants to be playing and I am delighted to have got my chance.

“I was happy to score the goal at Peterborough but it ended with disappointment by losing 5-4.Against Wednesday, I just tried to do my job for the team and get my goal. I was a bit unlucky with the header.

“Since the manager has been here, he's been good to me.

“He’s been playing me up top and he has been playing me out right.

“I don’t really mind where I play as long as I do a job for the team.

“I was happy with my own performance against Wednesday but obviously it wasn’t good enough because we lost.”

The midweek loss was particularly frustrating on home turf, with the majority of a 22,000-plus crowd leaving frustrated.

Afobe says the mood in the camp is just as exasperated.

He added: “It is disappointing to be losing games, especially at home where we should have our 12th man in our fans. They have been really good to us but we are letting them down.

“And it’s happening too often. We need for it to change.

“I don’t blame the fans getting frustrated; we are getting frustrated ourselves. It is not good enough.

“We try not to listen to it and at half time the manager says let’s go and prove them wrong, because I know they are not against us.

“We are not going out there to lose purposely or to draw purposely. We know within ourselves it’s not good enough.

“We just have to work hard in training and put it right on match days.

“It’s been very up and down. Every time we think we are going to go on a run of winning games, it ends with disappointment by us losing or drawing. We need to stay strong as a team and hopefully we will get some of that luck and go on a run.”

At least Afobe can now help with that bid to turn things around by taking his chance to perform and stay in the side.

And while recent reports on his progress back to his parent club at the Emirates will have been good, he is only focusing on doing his bit for Wanderers at present.

The 19-year-old said: “I speak to some of the coaching staff (at Arsenal) with the first team and the reserves.

“They just tell me to keep working hard in training and I will get my chance. That’s what has happened. But I don’t really want to think what they are thinking about me at Arsenal.

“I am a Bolton player and I want to work hard and help the team to start winning.

“It’s nice when people big you up or say nice things about you but I won’t let it get to my head. I just want to keep my place in the team.”

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