Team Wellington coach Matt Calcott is predicting Hamish Watson will score "a bundle of goals" this season after the striker grabbed a brace in a 4-1 defeat of 10-man Waikato FC yesterday.
The scores were locked at 1-1 at Hamilton's Porritt Stadium after 43 minutes before the dismissal of Dave Parkinson turned the game on its head.
Parkinson clipped Henry Fa'arodo in a challenge that referee Matt Conger deemed worthy of a second yellow card and Wellington took advantage with three second-half goals to register their first win of the season.
A member of Wellington Phoenix's academy, Watson was also the Central League's golden boot this year but was kept in check in the losses to Waitakere United and Canterbury United.
Eder Franchini had opened the scoring for Waikato on the counter-attack before Watson calmly slotted a penalty after Parkinson brought down Wellington skipper Adam McGeorge.
Watson then turned provider for Cory Chettleburgh's goal in the 61st minute before blasting home his second three minutes later.
Danish striker Karsten Viborg then completed the scoring.
"We were very professional in our win," said Calcott, who is working with a vastly different squad than the one that finished runners-up last season.
"You can dominate the Central League but it doesn't mean you're going to dominate the national league. It is quite a step up and they're slowly starting to realise that a bit. Every player I've had that's come up from another environment, it normally takes them a good couple of months to adjust. But if [Watson] improves every week and his attitude is good then he'll pick up a bundle of goals."
Calcott said the first half was even and Parkinson deserved to be sent off.
The second half, with a strong wind behind Wellington, was then "one-way traffic" and the three points would give his young side a lot of confidence.
"We haven't had good results but once we were 2-1, 3-1 up, it suddenly could have turned into five or six. Waikato still tried to play but I thought in the last half an hour we just rotated the ball and it was good to see."
Calcott said Solomon Islands international Fa'arodo had slotted back into the side seamlessly after arriving in Wellington only on Friday. "Jumping off a plane and adapting to new faces, he did really well. He gave us that attacking option and our ball retention in the top third wasn't great last week. This week it was much better."
Holding midfielder McGeorge, attacking midfielder Chettleburgh and left back Luke Rowe were others to earn the coach's praise.
Elsewhere, Waitakere thrashed Manawatu 5-0 to take the competition lead, Canterbury beat Otago United 2-1 and Auckland City and Hawke's Bay United drew 1-1.
- The Dominion Post
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