Scottish defender Keith Watson a key player at both ends for Hartlepool United

Stopping the opposition scoring might be Keith Watson's main task '“ but watch out for him in the opposition box!

Friday, 8th September 2017, 11:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:25 pm
Pools celebrate Keith Watson's goal against Maidstone. Picture by FRANK REID
Pools celebrate Keith Watson's goal against Maidstone. Picture by FRANK REID

Craig Harrison has puled off a good signing or three since his arrival at Hartlepool United but the temporary acquisition of Watson could prove the pick of the bunch.

When Pools broke their duck in the National League, the 27-year-old excelled at the heart of the defence at Guiseley, even though right-back is his specialist position.

And the St Johnstone defender, on a half-season loan at Victoria Park, was even better last Saturday, when Pools saw off Maidstone United 3-1.

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If teen sensation Connor Simpson captured the headlines for a first senior goal for the club, Watson certainly penned the opening chapter in the maiden victory at the Vic.

The Livingston-born player expertly swept in goal number one and then put in the sort of defensive display which ensured there would be no way back for the Stones.

And Watson told SportMail how important goals are to his game.

“It was good, I like a wee goal,” he said. “I’ve had a few in my time but the best thing was that was nice to get us up and running.

“You have to keep them out at the other end first but I do like to pop up with a few goals.”

Watson found the net every season north of the border, wherever he was playing.

He had a knack of getting on the end of a few sorties from full-back but also found the net from set-plays.

“I scored a few when I was at Dundee United and St Mirren and scored in January for St Johnstone,” he said.

“I do like getting forward and from set-pieces I love to sneak in a goal.

“I didn’t get to play many games last season and I got one!

“I always like to better my previous tally. The most I’ve scored in a season is five and I’d be happy with that.”

But Watson, speaking like a true defender, insisted that quelling the opposition and keeping clean sheets mean everything.

There was a no-nonsense approach from him – he was happy to kick the ball out and concede a throw-in rather than keep the ball alive and risk gifting their rivals a dangerous field position.

“It’s pointless taking chances at the back or trying to be too smart because that is when mistakes can happen,” he said.

“If the ball needs to go it needs to go. If it’s out of the park or in the back of the stand, they can’t score, can they?”

“I enjoy defending.

“We’ve not kept many clean sheets this season and we got one at Guiseley and we were disappointed to let in that goal against Maidstone.

“I think we deserved one, but we were 3-0 up at the time so it didn’t cost us.

“We can’t really let that get in the way of a great performance.”

It is a big spell for Watson who only played six times last season – a tally he is likely to equal by the end of next week!

He has shown no sign of ring rust and he has fitted in nicely.

Like Harrison’s other new boys, the team ethic shines through at a time when Watson could be forgiven for talking purely about his own circumstances.

“It was a massive game for us.

“Guiseley wasn’t the prettiest but it gave us a massive boost going into the Maidstone match.

“It was a big crowd and I thought the boys turned up and we were excellent, we deserved the win.”

Watson and Pools are desperate for an action replay tomorrow against unbeaten Dagenham & Redbridge.

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“We’ve performed well and we’ll be looking for the same kind of performance,” said the quietly-spoken Scot, who formed a good partnership with on-loan Sunderland centre-back Michael Ledger.

“If we can play like that then we can get a positive result.

“We started the game so well and that lifted the fans, you could feel the atmosphere in the stadium.

“We’ll go about our business like we did against Maidstone and Guiseley before that.

“We were under the cosh for a lot of the second half but we defended excellently and came out with a clean sheet.

“We were unfortunate not to get one against Maidstone but we have shown we are capable of doing it and I see no treason why we can’t.”