Belfast Telegraph

Seaview is the ideal place for Invermen to bite back: Watson

Crusaders v Larne, Danske Bank Premiership: Seaview, Today, 3pm

Gripping stuff: Albert Watson is hoping Larne will show their mettle after tasting defeat for the first time this season
Gripping stuff: Albert Watson is hoping Larne will show their mettle after tasting defeat for the first time this season

By Billy Weir

After shipping your first defeat of the season, the last thing most people would want is a trip to the league leaders who are sitting pretty with a perfect record.

Three wins on the board, nine goals scored and none conceded, Crusaders have started in ominous fashion but Larne defender Albert Watson is relishing the visit to Seaview.

Watson is still smarting after last week's 4-2 defeat by Ballymena United at Inver Park, their first negative since their return to the top league, and feels that the clash with Stephen Baxter's men is one to be embraced, not frightened of.

"It's massive. It's one of those games you look forward to, I just love playing and it's brilliant, we play the Crues and we'll look forward to it," he commented.

"It will be a hard game, but every game is going to be.

"The challenge is going to be massive this year with the step up and it's okay saying we have a good team - and you see we have a good team with a lot of great players - but sometimes you have to grind things out, put the ball down in the corner and play that way."

Last weekend was a tough learning exercise for a team that blew everyone away in the Championship but the Sky Blues worked tirelessly to ensure that Larne's dangermen didn't have time on the ball.

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Watson, a league winner at Linfield under Ballymena management duo David Jeffrey and Bryan McLoughlin, tipped his hat to their game plan.

"It's a massive step up for us in this league. Davy has experience in this league, as has Bryan and everybody at Ballymena, and they did a job on us to be honest," he admitted.

"They basically marked everybody we wanted on the ball and made sure that we didn't play and we weren't good enough."

There are certainly no regrets for Watson after coming home for the latter stages of his career. After spells in Canada and Iceland, he spent the last few months of last season back at Ballymena where he first burst through as a 16-year-old, and Larne gave him the chance to stay in the game.

"I was looking to get back to full-time so it made sense for my wife and I to come back. She lives up the road, our family is from here, so it wasn't a difficult decision," he said.

"To be honest, I am loving it. I loved my time in Ballymena but missed the full-time element and that's what the big draw was.

"What Kenny (Bruce) is doing with this club is unbelievable. We had 1,200 people here against Warrenpoint.

"We keep on being asked if we're going to challenge for the league, but you have to say, 'Hang on a wee minute here, we've just won the Championship'.

"There aren't many changes, maybe three or four players, so we have relatively the same team and you have to give boys a chance to bed in as Premiership players.

"People don't just go in to a league and say, 'We're going to win this', look at the likes of Ballymena and Cliftonville, you have to earn the right to be up with them and then aim to get above them."

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