Montrose skipper Paul Watson tells us of the optimism at Links Park

Montrose captain Paul Watson has spoken of how a fresh atmosphere at the club has inspired them to a bold start this season after the near-miss last term which threatened their SPFL status.

The Gable Endies find themselves in fifth place in Ladbrokes League 2, after winning three of their opening five games after a busy pre-season that saw no fewer than 16 players leave the Angus club.

But skipper Watson told Ladbrokes News of how under Paul Hegarty there is a sense of a new beginning and things are certainly looking up.

“There’s a real freshness about the club. Pre-season didn’t go great, we didn’t get the results but we were still in the process of assembling a squad right until the last minute.

“But the performances right from the start of the cup games and into the league were pretty good.

“There’s a positive atmosphere around the club and we’ve just got to keep that going, keep picking up points and make sure we are looking at the top end of the table, as opposed to the bottom.”

While Links Park has been somewhat of a fortress for the team, winning all three in front of their own fans, it has been a different story on the road, with seven straight defeats away from home, but the 29-year-old has been pleased with their recent performances nonetheless.

“We started off at a good Forfar side [in the Petrofac Training Cup] and played well. We probably deserved to win the game but they got a deflected goal from a free-kick. Then we did well at Hibs where a lot of people had the game down as a double-figure loss, but we held our own until about 70 minutes.”

Beginning their league campaign with some tricky outings didn’t reap the rewards the team would have hoped for despite some excellent showing.

“Annan and Berwick were very close. And then on Saturday we were by far the better team for about 60 minutes. Then we missed a penalty, the heads went down a wee bit and they got a man sent off and it galvanised them a bit and they got a soft goal,” Walker told us.

“The signs are still there that we are performing away from home, but we do need to start picking up points on the road if we are to do anything this season.”

With victories against two of the four teams above them this year, sitting just three points off the summit of League 2 it would be easy for optimistic supporters to hope for a promotion push this season.

However after the dark days of last term still in the memory, the man with the armband was keen to stress that any promotion will have to wait.

“We’d maybe have a better feel for that in another six games time, when we get closer to Christmas. Just now we are trying to concentrate on doing the right things and trying to pick up victories.

“We’ve played some of the teams that were favourites, and we’ve not really come away from any of those games thinking that they were better sides than us. We beat Arbroath, we beat Clyde and we beat Elgin. That’s three tough games but we’ve just got to keep the momentum going, especially at home.

“The main target was just to avoid being in that situation again. There was a dark cloud hanging over the club, and it wasn’t a good situation to be in, but thankfully we came out of it, and we’ve been able to use that as a guide to make sure we don’t get into something similar again.”

As for the man himself, Watson has missed the last two games through injury and told Ladbrokes News that his spell on the sidelines was set to be extended.

“I’m booked in for an operation on Thursday. It’s  a reoccurrence of an old groin problem I had some years ago.

“The recovery from it isn’t overly massive, so I’m hoping to be back training within a few weeks and hopefully I’ll be in contention to be playing again sometime in October.

“It’s hugely frustrating as we’ve started the season so well and being the captain you don’t want to be missing games. Hopefully we can get the operation done and begin the rehab and get back ASAP.”

Next up for his team-mates are two home games, first against East Stirlingshire, before East Fife visit Links Park. Win both of those and expect Montrose current promotion odds (14/1) to shorten drastically.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.