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FIRST-TEAM: Goal-scoring goalie praises attacking flair

by Andy Donley

Russell Astle-Coates paid tribute to Manchester’s array of attacking options, after Sunday’s impressive 12-4 victory over the University of Nottingham.

Captain Sam Richardson passed 200 goals for the club in putting four past the visitors, debutant Yussuf Abdullah scored a late hat-trick from the bench, and goalkeeper Astle-Coates even managed to find the back of the net for the first time in an MFC shirt.

And the 27-year-old believes that the reigning champions are beginning to see the benefit of some hard yards in training, after a difficult start to the season.

"Our attacking talent is there to see,” he said.

“Early on I thought it was going to be another tough game, but this time we managed to put them to bed. 

“We’ve got really great individuals, but we’ve been working hard in training as well, and I think we’re seeing that now, we’re seeing the results of that and I think there’s still more to come.

“We’re still to face Birmingham, I think they’re going to be the toughest team in this group.

“Like you can see from the last couple of games in terms of us scoring goals, conceding less chances, we’ve definitely come on, so I’m glad we’re meeting them in the New Year, rather than earlier on when we were still finding our shape.”

Astle-Coates has fought off competition from Marcos Magalhaes and England international Jordan Parker to be first choice in recent weeks, and said that the competition is helping him find his best form.

However, an unexpected side-result of that has been the trio attempting to score against each other in training – a skill that Astle-Coates has now brought to the Velodrome.

“I’m just really buzzing to finally score,” he said.

“I know the keeper was out of his net and someone was closing me down so my initial thought was just to get it over his head. I thought it was going wide at one point!

“Me and the other keepers are always doing it to be fair, Marcos scored on me the other week in training, exactly the same situation, so hopefully there’ll be a lot more!

“Jordan Parker isn’t here today, an England international, so I think we’ve got three top keepers. I’ve started the last three games, so it’s a real battle to keep hold of that shirt.”

The ‘keeper was also quick to praise captain Richardson, saying that the forward’s value is not limited to the impressive 200 goals he has scored for the club.

“Sam’s massive,” he said.

“He’s one of our best players and not only that he’s got a wealth of knowledge and experience.

“He’s a great captain to have, a great person to have in our dressing room and we’re pleased for his 200th goal.”

The other plus MFC took from the match was Abdullah’s startling cameo, as he grabbed his first chance to impress in the blue shirt with both hands.

And the 20-year-old pivot told the club website of his delight after the match.

“It’s very good,” he said.

“I’m happy to get my hat-trick, I’m happy to help the team and I’m happy that everything’s gone well for me.

“I thought I wasn’t going to get any minutes but I kept my head up, I kept on stretching off and then I scored a hat-trick!

“It’s very, very pleasing, I’m glad that I took my opportunity.”

That match marked the end of a successful 2015 for the club, with a trip to Sheffield on January 10 the next outing, where MFC will be eager to gain some revenge, after losing to last season’s runners up at the National Cycling Centre in October.

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