Gateshead forward Macaulay Langstaff opens up about stunning form and life under ex-Newcastle United defender
Gateshead forward Macaulay Langstaff is in an understandably confident mood as he enjoys one of the most productive spells of his career.
But he is also realistic and openly honest as he stands in the corridors of the International Stadium, fresh from another demanding training session.
The former York City striker had, by his own admission, not quite hit his stride over two spells with the Heed during the last four years.
After initially moving to the International Stadium from Northern League club Billingham Synthonia in February 2017, Langstaff made just five appearances and spent time on loan at both his former club and Blyth Spartans.
He joined York at the end of the same season and once again found himself farmed out on loan to Spartans and National League North side Bradford Park Avenue.
A return to Gateshead was secured ahead of the 2020/21 campaign and four goals in 16 appearances only hinted at his undoubted potential.
But something changed last season and the talk around the club was of a change in mentality from the striker and he was routinely talked up as one of the best performers during Mike Williamson and Ian Watson’s meticulous training sessions.
Langstaff was brutally honest as he reflected on a mixed time he has endured on the south bank of the Tyne - but his self-belief was all too evident on the back of scoring 10 goals in his opening 13 games this season.
“I am buzzing and I feel really confident,” he told The Echo.
“When last season ended and got curtailed in January, we continue training and I was starting to feel really good about my game.
“We were training hard, playing friendlies and I was doing well.
“I felt the fittest I had ever been going into pre-season, and I think that’s helped me a lot.
“I had a good pre-season, I scored a few goals, played some good stuff and I think I have taken that momentum into the season.
“I think it’s the first time I have had that social media stuff about me and it’s probably true to say I have taken my time to get going at Gateshead.
“I think having a run of games has helped me.
“Whenever I’ve had a run of games, I think I have contributed with goals and chances, that’s what I showing on a more consistent basis and maybe I haven’t done that in the past.
“It’s a challenge now to make sure that continues.”
Langstaff’s determination is fuelled by competition for places at the top end of the pitch.
The summer additions of Carlisle United striker Cedwyn Scott and former Newcastle United and Darlington forward Adam Campbell - not to mention a contract extension handed to Paul Blackett - means Heed boss Williamson possesses four forwards capable of causing problems for step two defences.
The quarter have scored 22 of the 31 goals Gateshead have scored in all competitions so far this season.
Perhaps that should not be a surprise with the attacking intent Williamson’s men show from all over the pitch with the likes of Greg Olley, Robbie Tinkler, Matty Jacob and Dan Ward all providing the ammo for four deadly finishers.
Langstaff is relishing the service both he and his fellow forwards are receiving and admitted it was “all you can ask for” as a striker.
He said: “Going into the games, I feel confident I am always going to get chances and I feel even more confident that I can take them when they come along.
“We create a lot of chances for our forwards, and I am confident I can get on the score-sheet.
“We had four or five very good forwards last season and everyone of them had different qualities - but we struggled to score goals.
“That’s no disrespect to any of the lads here last season, I was one of them, but it’s a fact we didn’t score enough goals.
“We are now an attack-minded side, we keep creating those chances and we have four very good forwards that can take them.
“We have midfielders that can create, full-backs that get forward and get balls into the area and it’s a side that is built to score goals.
“That’s all you can ask for as a striker really.”
Former Newcastle United defender Williamson is currently overseeing his third season as player-manager of the Heed - although the previous two campaigns have been prematurely ended by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Improvements in his playing squad and style of play have been gradual, and the attention to detail shown by the club’s coaching staff seem to be paying off this season.
Langstaff described the style of play as “unique” but insisted the players are now getting close to the standards demanded by Williamson and is confident of pushing for promotion into the National League this season.
“Since I have been here, this is the closest we have been to the ideal side that Mike wants.
“Working with Mike has been a major factor (in his improvement), it takes time to get used to what he wants as a manager from his players.
“I am getting somewhere near that, but I still have plenty to improve on in my game.
“It’s a unique way of playing, sometimes the fans might not see the detail both he and Busted (assistant manager Ian Watson) go into during training.
“We are in the play-off places, but he is still so demanding and everyday is about improving.
“It’s taken us all a while to get used to think but I think it’s starting to show now.
“We are reaping the rewards and what we have in the dressing room is more than good enough to get promoted.
“We have a really good management team, really good staff and a really good group of lads that are determined to achieve together.”