IT’S A TON OFF MY BACK SAYS CRAIG

The Football League Paper - - TFLP - By Luke Baker

SCOR­ING your 100th goal for a club should be a spe­cial mo­ment, but Peter­bor­ough striker Craig Mack­ail-Smith was just des­per­ate to get it over with.

That im­pa­tience can hap­pen when you wait the best part of six years to achieve a mile­stone!

In the League One play­off fi­nal on May 29, 2011, Mack­ail-Smith bagged his 99th Posh goal in the 3-0 tri­umph over Hud­der­s­field but de­parted for Brighton that sum­mer. A three-game loan spell in 2014 didn’t bring up goal 100 and eight painful matches passed with­out him find­ing the net since his tem­po­rary switch from Lu­ton at the end of Jan­uary.

How­ever, the 33-year-old striker’s 70-month wait fi­nally ended, al­beit in for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances, against Ox­ford last week­end and he plun­dered two more in a 3-3 thriller at Ch­ester­field in mid­week.

“I was hop­ing to put the 100th to bed a bit ear­lier and get that mon­key off my back, but it took a cou­ple of games to get there,” said Mack­ail Smith. “Now I feel a bit more re­laxed. It’s not a ques­tion ev­ery­one keeps ask­ing me and it’s not one I’m wor­ry­ing about now.

“I can play more freely and it made me go out and score two on Tues­day.

Feel­ings

“I got pretty lucky with the goal. It was a kind of cross-shot, but that’s what I needed. Now I’m freer and can just fo­cus on scor­ing.”

They say ab­sence makes the heart grow fonder and that cer­tainly ap­plies to Mack­ail-Smith’s feel­ings about Peter­bor­ough as he has slot­ted right back into life at the ABAX Sta­dium.

“I love the club, and lots of peo­ple that were here in my first spell are still here,” added the Scot­land in­ter­na­tional. “Ob­vi­ously I know Grant (man­ager Grant McCann) from playing along­side him as well.

“It was fan­tas­tic for the chair­man (Dar­ragh MacAn­thony) to give me a chance. I hadn’t been playing at Lu­ton, so peo­ple were ques­tion­ing my fit­ness. But I still had the hunger and de­sire to play, and I’m at a club where I know the style of play. So far, it is go­ing well.”

Mack­ail-Smith and McCann were team-mates dur­ing the striker’s first spell in Cam­bridgeshire. It could have made for an awk­ward relationship.

Yet the former Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge star in­sists the op­po­site is true and that hav­ing a good friend at the helm has only been a pos­i­tive.

“We can have chats about the team and how we both see a sit­u­a­tion.It works re­ally well,” he said.

“He’s a friend and now he’s my man­ager, so I feel I can have proper dis­cus­sions about how things are go­ing. It’s nice.”

PIC­TURE: Nigel Cole/ProS­ports

CEN­TU­RION: Craig Mack­ail-Smith has fi­nally scored his 100th goal for Peter­bor­ough

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