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Basildon United striker Greg Akpele targets pro career
BASILDON United striker Greg Akpele is aiming for a career in the pro game after attracting interest from two league clubs.
The 22-year-old, who was top scorer for the Bees in the Essex Senior League last season, came on as a second-half substitute in a reserve match for Dagenham & Redbridge this week, and also caught the eye of a scout for Leyton Orient while playing in a trial-match for Braintree Town in pre-season.
And he says he’s been inspired to aim high by 23-year-old Dwight Gayle, who progressed from playing with Stansted in the Essex Senior League to Crystal Palace in the Premier League in the space of two incredible years.
He said: “I look at someone like Dwight Gayle and think: ‘if he can do it – why can’t I?’ “I believe in my own ability and I’m prepared to work hard, and I think if I get fit enough then I can play professional football.
“They were pleased with me after the game on Tuesday and said well done afterwards. I’m hoping to get some more positive feedback on that today.”
Akpele played the last half-an-hour as a lone striker for the Daggers reserves in a 2-2 draw Crystal Palace on Tuesday and is due to train with them again this week.
He spent a month on trial with Conference National side Braintree Town in the summer and it was there he caught the eye of a scout for League One side Leyton Orient during a friendly with Southend.
He said: “I only came on for the last 15 minutes of that game against Southend and there was a scout there to watch a Southend player. He called the following morning and said I was the best player on the pitch. It’s encouraging to hear that and I’m hoping to hear back from them at some point.”
Akpele scored 11 goals last season for Basildon United while playing behind the striker or on the wing.
This season Carter – who he describes as “the best manager I’ve worked under” – has moved him up front, and he is prospering alongside the young Canvey stars who have been brought in as part of the clubs’ link-up, woth three goals to his names already this campaign.
But there was no star treatment for him this week as he was driven by Basildon chairman Paul Smith straight from his trial with Daggers to play in the Bees’ evening match at Hullbridge Sports in round one of the Essex Senior League Cup.
“I started against Hullbridge and I was shattered!” he joked.
“I live in central London so I did not get in until 1pm and the following morning I could hardly get out of bed for work.”
Basildon beat Hullbridge 2-0 in that match with second-half goals from Tyler Hayes and Remi Sutton.
Great Wakering also came through their round one match at Clapton with a win on penalties.
Rafael Duyille gave Clapton a 78th minute lead from the penalty spot but Nathan Fletcher equalised two minutes later, and Rovers eventually won 3-1 in the shoot-out.
The win was marred by a bad injury for Rovers’ Carl Read who broke his arm during a challenge with two Clapton players.
Bowers & Pitsea were knocked out following a 3-1 defeat at Takeley, with their consolation goal coming from George Smith.