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Phoenix striker keen to repay his debts

AAP logoAAP 13/12/2016 Cathy Walshe

Wellington striker Hamish Watson has a debt to repay when the Phoenix meet Western Sydney on Saturday in Auckland.

The 23-year-old centre-forward owes A-League teammate Kosta Barbarouses a favour after deflecting home the All Whites winger's long-range strike in Wellington's 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners three days ago.

The goal was Watson's second of the season, and the subject of some good-natured banter at Phoenix training on Tuesday.

"It was a good finish, wasn't it?" Watson beamed.

"He's not very happy about it, he's still adamant that it's his, and it came off a defender.

"I said I'd set him up for one in the weekend. It definitely came off my leg, so I'll take that one."

The win was Wellington's third of the season, and moved them off the bottom of the A-League ladder into eighth place, three points astray of fifth-placed Perth Glory.

It also provided a much-needed boost after a grim week triggered by coach Ernie Merrick's resignation following Wellington's sub-par start to the season.

Interim coaches Chris Greenacre and Des Buckingham gave Watson just his third start of the season, a move which paid dividends against a youthful Mariners side.

After scoring six goals in eight games - five to Fijian striker Roy Krishna - Wellington dominated Central Coast, producing 21 shots with five on target while the Mariners managed only five with just one troubling keeper Glen Moss.

Watson also worked hard defensively, tracking back and making tackles tirelessly until he was substituted in the 89th minute.

"It gave us something a bit different - obviously a bit more of a target, bringing Roy and Kosta into the game and giving them a bit more space," Watson said of his inclusion.

"That's what we worked on in the game, closing their centrebacks down and obviously I'm a big part of that.

"You have to work for as long and as hard as you can."

Greenacre said Watson slotted in smoothly to Wellington's attacking blueprint, proving a real handful for Mariners central defenders Jake McGing and Harry Ascroft.

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