Craig Mackail-Smith wants to make goals against Bolton Wanderers his launchpad to a 30-strike season

Craig Mackail-Smith has returned from injury in great form

Craig Mackail-Smith has returned from injury in great form

First published in Sport
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

CRAIG Mackail-Smith is targeting the 30-goal mark after doubling his tally for the season against Wanderers.

The Scotland international missed 13 months of football with a ruptured Achilles tendon but has come back in top form for Brighton with two goals in his last two home games, including a vital first-half equaliser on Saturday at the Amex.

Mackail-Smith’s best haul to date in the Championship is 11 – but he feels that in the system currently employed by new Seagulls boss Sami Hyypia, he could hit the jackpot this season.

"Why not?” he said after the game. “I’ve got one today and there’s a long way to go. It’s a long season but if we keep creating chances and I keep putting them away, there’s a good chance I could do that.

“It was massive to build on the win at Leeds as we didn’t want to lose that momentum. It’s another stepping stone to how we want to be playing.

“I want to be scoring week in, week out and pushing to be the main striker every week and to do that I need to be scoring goals.”

On his goal, the 30-year-old added: “Calde (Calderon) put a fantastic ball in and that’s what I thrive off, balls in and around the six-yard box are where I come alive.

“It was nice to get one of them – it’s been a long time since I’ve finished one of them off.”

Brighton lost their first two games after struggling to play Hyypia’s more dynamic brand of football but Mackail-Smith believes the addition of full-back Joe Bennett on loan from Aston Villa, Joao Teixeira on loan from Liverpool and Dutch midfielder Danny Holla from Den Haag have all helped the system to settle.

“We were lacking a few players at the start and I don’t think we quite got the system the gaffer wanted us to play,” he said. “Now he’s brought in a couple of additions and I think we’ve picked it up.

“We’ve got a lot of players who are confident, pass it and aren’t afraid of making a mistake and I think it shows. When we went 1-0 down, we still got on the ball and passed it around.

“We showed character to come from behind and we’ve got a lot of confidence and belief in each other.

“We have struggled since I’ve come here to come back from losing positions so it’s a great confidence boost for all the boys knowing that we can do that now.”

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