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Match Reports

Cambridge: Langstaff hits hat-trick

Mixed afternoon at St Neots

16 July 2022

Macaulay Langstaff scored a seven-minute hat-trick to hand us a comeback victory in the second of two 70-minute games against Cambridge United at St Neots Town.

Having found ourselves 2-0 down at the break, the summer signing put on a quickfire display of poacher's finishing to ensure both sides left the Premier Plus Stadium with a win each.

We had bright moments in the first match but were caught in possession twice by our League One hosts, whose clinical finishing earned them victory.

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Match one: 0-2

Clear-cut chances were few and far between in the opening period but we claimed the game’s first real opportunity when Aden Baldwin played an excellent ball over the top for Kairo Mitchell. The forward had to check on to his left foot to keep the bouncing ball away from his marker and saw his eventual shot blocked on the edge of the area.

Three minutes later, Ed Francis whistled a free-kick inches wide before, moments afterwards, his corner caused chaos but couldn’t be turned home.

We’d done well to deny our hosts any real goalscoring opportunities but they did have the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time, only for the linesman to rule Sam Smith offside after he headed home a free-kick.

The hosts came back out with the bit between their teeth, though, and had the lead three minutes after the restart when they pounced on a misplaced pass and worked the ball to Smith, who produced an excellent finish from 25 yards.

We had a great opportunity to level with 43 minutes on the clock when Geraldo Bajrami played an excellent ball over the top for Mitchell, who was unable to lift it over the onrushing keeper.

Mitchell was looking our most likely man to find the net and on the hour did brilliantly to win the ball inside Cambridge’s area before firing wide from 20 yards.

And we were left to rue our failure to capitalise on the openings we created three minutes from time when Sam Slocombe conceded possession, allowing Smith to prod the ball past him to score his second.

Line-up: Slocombe; Cameron, Baldwin, Bajrami; Nemane, Munakandafa; Francis, Trialist, McGregor [U19], Austin; Mitchell

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Match two: 3-2

It was all-change in terms of personnel for both sides and Cambridge’s Harvey Knibbs claimed the first shot of the game on six minutes, firing the ball wide, before making no mistake shortly afterwards when he was played behind our defence to score past Tiernan Brooks.

The young keeper then made two good saves in quick succession, denying Joe Ironside and Saikou Janneh, before having to pick the ball out of his net again two minutes later when Janneh played an excellent through ball for Knibbs to finish clinically once more.

Langstaff and Tobi Adebayo-Rowling had linked up earlier in the half, with the forward seeing his shot blocked, and they did so again towards the end of the first period as the wing-back burst into space down the right and crossed low into the area. The ball just evaded Langstaff in the middle, who claimed he’d been pulled back as he tried to reach it.

But the former Gateshead forward’s frustrations were to be short-lived as, after the break, he turned the game on its head almost single-handedly.

With 18 minutes to play, he got on the end of Joel Taylor’s cross from deep and saw his deflected header nestle in the net.

Moments later, Matt Palmer’s corner fell for Langstaff on the edge of the six-yard box and he was ready to lash it home with his left foot.

Only a right-footed finish was missing to complete the perfect hat-trick and, on 59 minutes, Langstaff duly obliged when Cal Roberts did well to nod Taylor’s cross back into his path to allow him to guide the ball past the stranded keeper.

Brooks was called upon to make a big save at his near post in the dying moments but the referee called time shortly afterwards as we claimed a win in game two.

Line-up: Brooks; Chicksen, Mahovo [U19], Brindley; Taylor, Adebayo-Rowling; O'Brien, Palmer, Vincent, Roberts; Langstaff

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