Gateshead boss Steve Watson hailed his side as they ran out 3-1 winners at Maidenhead United on the opening day of the Vanarama National League season.

The Tynesiders got their 2018/19 campaign off to a flyer, with goals from Greg Olley, Scott Boden and Luke Armstrong meaning that Fraser Kerr’s stoppage-time own goal was inconsequential. Former Newcastle United and Everton man Watson committed his future to the Heed despite what has been a summer of uncertainty behind the scenes, prior to the recent takeover by Dr Varghese, and he was as proud as anyone at the first-day success – with one tiny complaint!

“A better way would have been 3-0, to be honest with you! I think I’m being a bit over-picky there.

“The start of the season is very important and you know how difficult the summer’s been and how young the squad is, setting from Gateshead Stadium at 6 o’clock this morning, and then having to play in what must have been close to 100 degrees heat. Against a team who are at home and like everyone else dying for a great start, I think we did outstanding.

“Three debut goals, or full debut goals, for the lads, starting with Greg’s, which was fantastic. He’s a very, very talented boy, he’s got a very good football brain for his age, and to have the ability and the foresight to do that to start us off.

“Then the two strikers getting two great strikers’ goals as well. It couldn’t really be more pleasing for the lads.

“It’s been a really long day; it’s quite hard to believe that it’s the same day! But three points and onwards and upwards.”

The club announced earlier this week they would ‘continue as a full-time professional football club, operating this season with a modest budget and a young, hungry and competitive side.’ With a failed takeover earlier in the summer, former owners Richard and Julie Bennett had announced the Heed would have to revert to a part-time model, while even the prospect of the club folding had not been totally out of the question.

Varghese’s takeover has offered renewed optimism, and with Watson leading his side to an ideal start in his first full season at the helm, the ex-Premier League player is moving on to the next game – Salford City visit on Tuesday night – with grounded but definite satisfaction.

“All it is is a start, and a good start. We know how tough the league and the season’s going to be.

“We know how people have seen our chances and hopefully they’ll have a look at not just the score but the performance and realise there’s more to us than what they thought, despite the budget.”

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