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UTILITA PREVIEW | Watson on Kidderminster Harriers
Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

9th September 2021

Ian Watson reflects on Tuesday’s defeat at Leamington and looks ahead to Saturday’s trip to Kidderminster Harriers, as well as the Emirates FA Cup second round qualifying draw. 

The assistant manager watched on as Gateshead were handed a first defeat of the season at The Your Co-Op Community Stadium in midweek, with two second half strikes cancelling out Cedwyn Scott’s early opener.

“We started off really well and we controlled the game for I’d say the first 45 or 50 minutes,” said Watson.

“We dominated the ball but perhaps not in areas where we were going to hurt the opposition, we dominated it more in our own half and bordering on their half whereas we want to dominate higher up and hurt teams.

“Ultimately two set pieces cost us which is something we spoke about after the game and it’s something we can’t let happen.

“Teams are going to look at that and feel it’s an area where they can hurt us so we’ve spoken to the boys this morning and we discussed that it needs to be something we turn into a strength.

“We can’t have teams thinking they can bully us from set-piece situations.

“For us it’s about switching on to the second phase of play, because in the first phase we’re winning the ball but it seems to be that second phase where the ball is dropping and we’re not the first to react.

“The performance, certainly in the first half, was good but the second half wasn’t up to our standards and we didn’t play with the intensity we usually play with.

“We can’t fault the boys at all, they’ve been brilliant.

“Not all of the results have gone the way we feel they should have but we’ve given ourselves a good platform to build from and now it’s about how the boys react.”

The Heed continue to rack up the miles on the road on Saturday with their third away trip inside seven days at Kidderminster Harriers, who currently sit third after an unbeaten start to the season.

“Kidderminster are a very good side,” Watson continued.

“It’s a really good test for us and we’ll see where we are when we play them in terms of where we can improve and where we’re strong, because they’re expected to be up there and they’ve got off to a really good start.

“We expect to be challenging at the top end of the table as well so it’s a massive game for both clubs and all our boys are very much up for it.

“We’re looking forward to getting down there, playing with a real intensity and purpose and putting in a good performance against a strong Kidderminster side.”

Gateshead were also handed their first cup opposition of the season in the Emirates FA Cup second round qualifying draw, with a home tie against fellow Vanarama National League North side Bradford (Park Avenue) set to be played on Saturday, September 18.

Watson admitted a home draw was the outcome he had hoped for following a run of games on the road, saying: “We’ll have had three long away trips after Saturday so we were hopeful of getting a home draw and playing in front of our own supporters.

“We feel any game at home is winnable so it was a positive draw for us.

“We’re looking to hopefully put a cup run together like we did a couple of years ago when the fans really got behind us.

“The first round game against Oldham is something we’d like to revisit, and we want to to get as far through the rounds as we can.

“It’s a real positive for the club when you do go on an FA Cup run and we’ll be going all out to make sure we give the fans an exciting run.”

The assistant manager also offered an update on the injury situation at the club, with a number of long-term absentees working their way back to fitness over the coming weeks.

“Adam Campbell was doubtful for Tuesday so we decided to rest him,” he said.

“We’re hoping he’s going to be ok for Saturday but other than that everyone is as they were.

“Mike [Williamson] was back on Tuesday having missed the Southport game and we’re hopeful he’ll be there again at Kidderminster.

“Of the long-term injuries, Elliot [Forbes] is going to be the first one back and we’re hoping that it’ll be two or three weeks before he’s able to get some minutes in.

“Jack [Hunter] is progressing as well so he’s got another five or six weeks until he’ll be back in contention.”

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