Dele-Bashiru: “It Was Exciting To Show What I Can Do”
Tom Dele-Bashiru is determined to learn the lessons from the Emirates FA Cup third-round tie at Vicarage Road and finish the job he helped start against Tranmere.
The Nigeria Under-23 international helped put the Hornets in cruise control against the Merseysiders, marking his first start for the club with the opening goal at Vicarage Rod. Nathaniel Chalobah and Roberto Pereyra then found the back of the same part of the net with left-footed strikes and the game looked done and dusted after 37 minutes.
But, roared on by their magnificent support, Tranmere staged a stunning recovery, scoring three times in the last 25 minutes to force a replay at Prenton Park and take the gloss off Dele-Bashiru's big day.
"It was a good feeling to get my first goal as I've been working hard in training and it was exciting to show what I can do," the 20-year-old said on Added Time. "But the result wasn't what we wanted. We kind of lost our organisation in the second half.
"In the first half it went well, we had possession of the ball but they changed formation in the second half, they pressed us high up and we were forced to kick it long at times and give them the ball. We could have dealt with the pressure better and created more options for each other on the ball. But there are positives to take and we can go and do it right in the replay."
It was the midfielder's first minutes of any sort since the Carabao Cup win over Coventry in August, although he did get 16 minutes off the bench for Nigerian Under-23s against South Africa in November.
"It was tough, being my first 90 minutes," he said. "Towards the end I was struggling a bit but it was a great feeling [to play and score]. The crowd were very vocal, very supportive and it was just good to make them proud and show them what I can do. Mapps was giving me a lot of advice, telling me to stay switched on and not to lose concentration. I then had to [do the same and] help Callum [Whelan] when he came on. The older players gave lots of support."
Signed from Manchester City in the summer, Dele-Bashiru has had to wait patiently for his chance but he was named on the bench at Sheffield United and his first start has come soon after, so Nigel Pearson has clearly liked what he has seen in training.
"He's just a good guy," said Dele-Bashiru of the Head Coach. "He motivates all the players, he tells us our chance will come and that you have to take it when it does. He demands a lot from everyone. I'll keep working hard in training and show that I'm ready to play."