United and County shared the spoils over two games, both winning one apiece in two competitive friendlies…
Sam Smith’s first game brace sealed a comfortable win, before a seven-minute Macaulay Langstaff hat-trick pegged back United in the second 70, despite United going 2-0 up thanks to Harvey Knibbs’ goals.
Having missed United’s friendly in Cardiff last weekend, James Brophy and Dimi Mitov returned to the starting eleven in the first of two seventy-minute matches against Notts County at the Premier Plus Stadium.
Academy graduate Mamadou Jobe retained his place in the heart of United’s defence in, lining up alongside George Williams, Lloyd Jones and Harrison Dunk.
United began the opening 70-minutes knocking the ball around nicely, without testing County stopper Sam Slocombe.
Probing for an opener, United’s best chance of the opening quarter fell to Sam Smith on 18 minutes, who had beaten Notts ‘keeper Slocombe to the ball. However, the striker was unable to angle the following shot, from a tight angle, goal wards, and the visitors were able to clear.
Despite having Mitov worried at his far post, Francis’ speculative long range free-kick sailed narrowly wide – the visitors’ best chance of the opening 35 minutes.
Sam Smith thought he’d given United the lead on the stroke of half-time after meeting Lewis Simper’s teasing free-kick delivery. However, the flag was raised, and the goal was ruled out. Concluding the opening 35 minutes of action.
The forward brilliantly reacted to disappointment at the end of the first half by firing United into the lead just three minutes into the second. Despite looking like the chance had faded after being forced out wide, the striker turned before rifling a strike into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
Smith doubled United’s lead on 67 minutes after again pouncing on a loose ball inside the County half, this time bursting through before slotting home under Sam Slocombe.
As expected, United returned for the second seventy minutes with a fresh line-up, seeing last week’s goal scorers Harvey Knibbs and Saikou Janneh come onto the field, as well as Mannion, Tarpey, Okedina, Taylor, Haunstrup, O’Neil, May, Worman and Ironside.
Much like towards the end of the first seventy minutes, United started the second 70 enjoying much of the ball, with Janneh and Knibbs going close to giving United the lead early on.
United’s impressive start to the second game was rewarded on 11 minutes after Harvey Knibbs raced onto Joe Tarpey’s through ball before firing into the bottom corner past a helpless Brooks in the Notts County net.
Mark Bonner’s men continued to turn the screw as the first half concluded, with both Ironside and Janneh forcing the County stopper into good saves before Knibbs headed over from close range.
Harvey Knibbs netted his fifth goal of pre-season on 25 minutes. Saikou Janneh’s neat through ball found the forward before the former Aston Villa man slotted in past Brooks.
The visitors halved the deficit, somewhat against the run of play, on 52 minutes after Langstaff’s deflected header left Mannion wrong footed.
Just five minutes later, the visitors completed the comeback after Langstaff’s turning shot evaded a crowded six-yard-box before finding the bottom corner.
Langstaff completed his hat-trick two minutes later after receiving the ball on the edge of Mannion’s six-yard-box.
United are back in action on Tuesday night as they host Championship side Norwich City at the Abbey (7:30KO), with tickets available here.
First game starting XI: Mitov; Williams, Jobe, Jones, Dunk; Digby, Simper; Tracey, Lankester, Brophy; Smith
First game goals: Smith (33’, 67’)
Second game starting XI: Mannion; Tarpey, Okedina, Taylor, Haunstrup; O’Neil, May; Janneh (McConnell, 64’), Worman (Yearn, 35’), Knibbs; Ironside
Second game goals: Knibbs (11’, 25’); Langstaff (52’, 55’, 59’)