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Afolayan: "A goal was the only thing missing"

FC St. Pauli extended their winning run to seven with a 2-1 defeat of Greuther Fürth on Saturday. Winter recruit Oladapo Afolayan had a decisive hand in the win, scoring the winner in the 55th minute, and the winger was naturally delighted after notching his first goal in the brown-and-white jersey.

Greuther Fürth proved the expected tough opponents on the day, with the Boys in Brown struggling to get going, especially in the first half. "It wasn't our best performance, and it wasn't the best game I've played since I've been here either," said Afolayan, who along with his teammates was not happy about his side’s showing early on. After a sluggish start and a wake-up call in the form of a haranguing from captain Jackson Irvine after Fürth had had a goal disallowed that would have seen them take a 2-0 lead, the Hürzeler XI stepped up a gear and eventually turned the game around.

Having played a part in the best move of the game when Manolis Saliakas levelled the scores, Afolayan went on to grab the winner himself, his first goal for the club on his seventh appearance. "I saw Paqa hit the ball to Connor and tried to get near him," the No17 said. “When the ball came in, I attacked it and tried to get my shot on target." And that's exactly what the 25-year-old Englishman did. With two Fürth defenders neglecting to go for the ball and seemingly relying on the other to intervene, Afolayan nipped in and smacked a first-time effort into the bottom left corner of the net from twelve metres. "I struck it quite well and for me in those areas it's all about making a good contact and finding the corner,” he said. “I was really happy to get my first goal. It was an incredible feeling. Since I started here a goal was the only thing missing really.”

Now that’s we call pressure. Oladapo Afolayan sees off the challenge of four Fürth defenders.

Now that’s we call pressure. Oladapo Afolayan sees off the challenge of four Fürth defenders.

For all the elation at scoring his first goal in St. Pauli colours, Afolayan emphasised that getting three points in a tough game against decent opponents was "much more important". The wide man had played his part in the winning run with some fine performances in recent weeks, but despite having some good chances, especially in the 2-1 win at Paderborn, he hadn't found the net until Saturday. "I didn't put much pressure on myself. I always have high expectations of myself in what I want to do and what I want to achieve in my career, so scoring my first goal at this level is a big step for me."

Afolayan moved to the Millerntor from Bolton Wanderers just a few days before the second half of the season kicked off at Nürnberg, which meant he didn't have much time to acclimatise to his new surroundings, but that hasn’t been a problem. "I've not been here very long, but I feel really settled in,” he explained. “I think you can see that by the way I'm playing on the pitch. There's still a lot more to come from me but I think I'm adapting well and getting used to things. I like the way we play under Fabian [Hürzeler]. It suits my way of playing and I think he can help me improve my game."

Victory over Fürth saw the Boys in Brown equal the club record of seven successive wins in the second tier and another three points on Sunday at bottom-of-the-table Sandhausen would set a new benchmark. The Hürzeler XI go into the game as favourites, given their respective league positions and current form. Yet Afolayan cautioned against underestimating Sandhausen, who have lost six games in a row: "We certainly won't do that,” he said. “We saw what can happen in football in the Premier League at the weekend. Southampton, who are struggling, went to Manchester United and got a 0-0 draw and Liverpool lost at Bournemouth who were last. We go to Sandhausen and away games are always hard, but as long as we apply ourselves and keep doing what we have been doing, then hopefully we can get a win."

Photos. Witters