Forty Up As Langstaff Makes History

Altrincham 0-2 Notts County (National League) 28.03.23

You could easily be forgiven for assuming that Notts County’s fairly routine 2-0 win over Altrincham on Tuesday night was a game that will be remembered for little more than yet another three points for Luke Williams’ relentless Magpies side; a victory that keeps Notts just about in the National League title race, with the crucial clash at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground on the horizon.

The reality is though, Tuesday 28th March 2023 is a date which will likely be in the Notts County history books for eternity as the night when Macaulay Langstaff reached an extremely special milestone.

With title rivals Wrexham not playing, a victory at the J. Davidson Stadium was vital to ensure The Magpies kept their automatic promotions hopes alive.

Williams’ squad had been stretched on Saturday due to injuries and international call-ups and that was the case again, nevertheless only a win would do.

The game began in familiar fashion, with the hosts struggling to get hold of the ball for any prolonged length of time and Notts zipping it around with the kind of energy and intensity they have become renowned for this season.

A series of half chances went begging for Notts as they pushed for the opener, with Kyle Cameron and Sam Austin both seeing efforts blocked narrowly wide.

In the 25th minute, however, came the moment that everyone in the away end of 632 had travelled to see.

Ever since his lethal touch and finish to equalise against local rivals Nottingham Forest in pre-season, everyone at Meadow Lane has known that Langstaff’s goalscoring instincts are pretty unbelievable.

As his goal tally climbed and climbed, fans were joking about just how many he could actually score, but this was the moment where those jokes became reality.

As John Bostock placed the ball down around 20 yards from goal, Langstaff was stood five yards offside, while Altrincham were preparing their wall for the free-kick.

What happened next was the perfect example of the clever thinking and movement that make Langstaff so dangerous.

After creeping back onside, he received a quick pass from Bostock and calmly rolled the ball into the bottom corner, all while the Altrincham defence were still preparing for the free-kick.

While Langstaff wheeled away in celebration, Alty protested to referee Dean Watson, but the goal stood, and the record was broken.

Nobody in the 161-year history of the world’s oldest professional club had ever scored 40 league goals in a single season, now they had.

Previously, only Lee Hughes, Tommy Lawton and Tom Keetley had ever enjoyed a season of over 30 league goals in the famous black and white stripes.

Keetley’s record of 39 in the 1930-31 season had stood unchallenged for 92 years, but tonight was the night it fell, as the prolific Teesider wrote his name into the history books, ahead of the three of the most naturally gifted strikers Meadow Lane has ever seen.

As “Macca Langstaff’s on my mind and he’s County’s number nine,” rang out from the away end, you could sense the disbelief from many as to what he had just achieved, a goal tally that may never ever be reached again, made even more remarkable by the fact that every single one of the 40 had come from open play.

And, as incredible as it was, that wasn’t the only fairy-tale story of the night.

Just 10 minutes later, Altrincham were given a penalty as Regan Linney was brought down by Cameron inside the area.

Standing in Linney’s way at 6’6’’ was Archie Mair. On loan from Norwich City, the 22-year-old Scotsman was deputising for the injured Sam Slocombe, after academy graduate Tiernan Brooks saw his run between the sticks end thanks to an Ireland Under 21s call-up at the weekend.

Prior to replacing Slocombe in the 16th minute of Saturday’s win over Scunthorpe, Mair had played just once for The Magpies and had been heavily criticised for his performance as Notts were knocked out of the FA Trophy by Maidstone United.

This, however, would prove to be his redemption.

As Linney stepped up Mair hurled himself to his left and flicked the ball behind for a corner before being mobbed his teammates. It proved to be a crucial moment in the match.

After going in at half-time 1-0 up, Notts knew that one more would likely seal it.

That moment came in the 49th minute when referee Watson pointed to the spot after Aaron Nemane’s cross was turned away by an arm.

The ever-reliable Ruben Rodrigues stepped up and hammered his penalty past Altrincham ‘keeper Ollie Byrne for his 17th league goal of the season, giving Williams’ men vital breathing room.

The remainder of the second half saw Notts run the clock down with their incredible ability to retain possession, stifling any life left in their hosts.

Alty’s one chance of note fell to Oldham Athletic loanee Luke Burgess, who broke away down the inside left channel in the 80th minute but could only skim an effort off the top of the crossbar.

The night almost became even more special when Langstaff crashed an effort off the top of the crossbar in stoppage time, which would’ve seen him surpass Ricky Miller’s National League record tally.

But with that record waiting to be broken on another day, the referee put his whistle to his lips and brought an end to a night which will forever be remembered as Macaulay Langstaff’s night.

*Article provided by Evan Shaw (Notts County Correspondent).

*Main image @Official_NCFC Macaulay Langstaff celebrates after his milestone 40th goal of the season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *