Ayr United's on-loan Celtic striker Jonathan Afolabi notches first goal of the season
Celtic’s on-loan Ayr United striker Jonathan Afolabi managed to notch his first goal of the season to leave manager Jim Duffy “delighted” with his performance.
It’s been a testing time for the Republic of Ireland under-21 international since his loan move to the Championship club was confirmed over the summer. Afolabi had previously made 7 appearances for the Honest Men with only 1 start to his name and 0 goals.
His last official goal came back in April during his Dundee loan spell. But yesterday, he came on from the bench away to Arbroath to help secure a big 1-1 draw as he netted an equaliser with only 10 minutes left to play.
And reacting to the goal post-match, his manager Jim Duffy had the following to say via the Daily Record:
“Our desire and determination today were immense and we were very organised in a very difficult match. You want competition around the squad and our bench contributed again, which was great.
“I was delighted for Jonno to come on and get his first goal and he was unlucky not to get another near the end.”
Jonathan Afolabi ends 6-month goal drought; must build on Ayr United opener
Afolabi has had a trying time since signing for Celtic back in the summer of 2019. Then manager Neil Lennon stated at the time that the Irishman was “on the cusp” of first-team football at Parkhead [Sky Sports].
However, the brutal reality is that over 2 years later and Afolabi appears no closer to first-team action than he was when he signed. Several loan spells have come his way, but he hasn’t been able to be a real standout during any of them.
Indeed, his Dunfermline loan in 2020 was cut short due to Covid just as he was coming into form. A season-long loan with Dundee last term led to him only netting 4 goals and being snubbed for the promotion playoff matches.
This year, he’s looking to sparkle into life with Ayr. Unfortunately, it’s been a difficult start with Afolabi still to break into the starting XI.
But yesterday’s goal should give him the shot in the arm he needs. It was a big goal for Duffy’s side and is bound to have injected him with the burst of confidence he needs. It’s the kind of moment that can seriously push a player on to greater heights.
It’s really dependent on how Afolabi uses it. Duffy will undoubtedly continue to give him opportunities, but this is a loan spell the former Southampton striker really needs to see work out for him. Especially if he’s to have any sort of long-term future at Celtic Park.
Ending his 6-month goal drought is a start. But if it’s followed by another quiet run of form? It won’t be looking too great.