MATCH OFFICIALS: Referee – PETER LOWE
Assistants – Andy Jones + Liam White
Another tough Home game beckoned for the Yachtsmen as they welcomed last season’s Champions, Portland United, to Westwood Park. The visitors have made a great start to the season with two victories, 6-1 against Team Solent in the League and a excellent 1-0 win at Plymouth Parkway in the F A Cup.
Cowes manager, Steve Hunt, was forced to make a couple of changes to the starting line up with both Max Draper and Ashley Brett not available. Leigh Mackenzie and Callum Chase coming in along with the returning Aidan Bryan who replaced George Turner.
The Islanders should have made a dream start to the game as a 1st minute ball over the top was missed by their defender leaving John McKie in on goal, but his shot across the keeper went wide of the right upright. Portland began to play their way into the game and right back Ashley Smith fired over the Cowes bar. The home side were dealt a blow in the 15th minute when John McKie went down with a hamstring injury which forced him off, his replacement being Jimmy Wykes. The visitors Alex Halloran then smacked a free kick over the bar before Cowes’ Connor Furmidge sent a header a foot wide of the post as an even first half ended goal-less.
H-t 0 – 0
The Islanders nearly took the lead on 52 minutes when a Leigh Mackenzie ball into their box bounced over Lewis Whyton but Connor Furmidge headed just over the bar. Four minutes later and it was the Dorset side who opened the scoring when LEWIS CLARKE fired low past Ed Hatt in the Cowes goal. Just past the hour Cowes made their second substitution when Callum Chase was replaced by Ollie McArthur, with the change of personnel came a change of formation as the home side went to a 4 – 3 – 3. Cowes were then thankful to keeper Ed Hatt who pulled off a brilliant double save to prevent Lewis Clarke from extending the visitors lead. Gareth Bricknell sent a cross in from the right where Jason Malcolmson headed towards goal only for keeper Sean Lillington to block low down by his right hand post, although several Cowes players claimed the ball hd crossed the line, the Officials did not agree. Eleven minute from time Aidan Bryan was replaced by George Turner as the Yachtsmen threw everything forward in search of an equaliser. In the 85th minute Jason Malcolmson’s cross was punched clear by their keeper but only to GARETH BRICKNELL five yards outside the area, he in turn fired the ball back into the goal off the post for a richly deserved equalising goal and cap off a really good performance by all. The home side could have even snatched all three points in the final minutes when first George Turner crossed from the left only for Connor Furmidge to blast his shot over the crossbar, then with seconds left a ball over the top saw Darren Williams lift the ball over the advancing keeper into the goal, however the Assistants flag was correctly raised for offside against Darren.
Once again a superb performance saw Manager Steve Hunt with a smile on his face and hoping his side can keep this sort of form up.
COWES SPORTS – Ed Hatt, Leigh Mackenzie, Jason Malcolmson, Aidan Bryan(replaced by George Turner 79), Craig Insley (c), Ewan Cranwell, John McKie(replaced by James Wykes 15), Callum Chase(replaced by Oliver McArthur 64), Connor Furmidge, Darren Williams, Gareth Bricknell, Subs not used; James Wright, Sam Sanders g-k
PORTLAND UNITED – Sean Lillington, Ashley Smith, Dan Payne, Shaun Bessant, Lewis Whyton (c), Sam Buckler, Ross Doig, Alex Halloran, Lewis Clarke, Alex Godfrey, Solomon Ayunla, Subs:- Adam Diaz, Billy Mitchell, Louis Hankin, Carl Mutch