LIONEL AINSWORTH sunk Leeds last season – now Town’s new signing is ready to inflict a repeat dose of misery on the Elland Road faithful.
Ainsworth’s well-taken third-minute strike for then-League II side Hereford was enough to dump Leeds out of the FA Cup in a first-round replay in West Yorkshire.
And how the 21-year-old, who produced a lovely first touch from Theo Robinson’s pass then shot home low from just inside the penalty area, would love to see Danish keeper Casper Ankergren again having to retrieve the ball from the back of the net during Saturday’s West Yorkshire derby at the Galpharm.
First of all, Ainsworth must make Lee Clark’s big-match pick, and with Gary Roberts available again after a three-match suspension, fans will be eager to see how the manager shuffles a pack which with Anthony Pilkington also on board, now boasts three talented wingers.
Derby product Ainsworth has played all three games since joining Town from Watford in a reported £300,000 deal and signing a two-and-a-half year contract.
He has started the last two, the 1-0 win over Peterborough and 1-1 draw against Hartlepool, and is understandably desperate to make it a hat trick as Town play at home for the third game in a row.
And the Nottingham-born player firmly believes he has the ability to entertain – and help Town win promotion to the Championship.
“My pace is a major asset, but people will see trickery and hopefully goals from me. I’m here to try and excite people,” said the man who has so far netted 12 times in 69 career outings, 42 of them starts.
Ainsworth, who as well as his three previous permanent clubs, has had loan spells at Bournemouth, Halifax and Wycombe, started out as a striker.
“Terry Westley, one of the youth team coaches at Derby, had the idea of trying me on the wing, and it went from there,” he explained.
“I think he thought he could utilise my speed, and because it was another string to my bow, I was happy to play in that position.”
Ainsworth, who played for England Under 19s alongside new Town teammate Tom Clarke, enjoyed the Galpharm atmosphere when he played against Town for Hereford, to whom he was loaned from Watford, back in December.
Now he’s looking forward to a bumper turn-out on Saturday.
“It’s great to play in front of big crowds, and while the atmosphere at our place is always good, it should be extra special against Leeds.”