MATCH OFFICIALS: Referee – GEORGE KIMBER-SWEATMAN
Assistants – Alistair Taylor + Andy Jones
Cowes Sports welcomed New Forest side Brockenhurst too Westwood Park for this important match between the sides in 19th and 18th in the table, separated by just one point with the Yachtsmen having a game in hand. A win for either side puts a healthy gap between themselves and the three relegation places.
Boosted by their weekend victory over Bournemouth, Cowes Manager Steve Hunt was forced into two changes as both James Wykes and skipper Craig Insley picked up injuries, their replacements though did not weaken the team, Harry Dye and Nathan Lewis for a rare appearance. The visitors made one change from their previous side, James Marshall coming in for Noel McCarthy-Gardiner.
Very tricky conditions as a strong wind blew from school end toward the car park end as the game kicked off. Cowes were first to show as John McKie shot across the goal but wide of the keepers left hand post in the 4th minute before Gareth Bricknell went close with a free kick on 6 minutes. Badgers forward Mitchell Speechley-Price then caused the home defence problems with a couple of long throws from in front of the clubhouse, Ed Hatt managing to just about clear his lines. Tobi Falodi tried his luck from 20 yards but his chip went over the crossbar. On 26 minutes Brockenhurst took the lead when James Marshall crossed from wide on the Cowes right, somehow the ball evaded the Cowes defence to find MITCHELL SPEECHLEY-PRICE about eight yards out with time to control the ball before planting it past Ed Hatt into the right side of the goal to put his side ahead. Unfortunately for the home side they were unable to respond to the setback with a shot that was well over the only chance they created throughout the remainder of the first half.
H-t 0 – 1
Despite a half time rollicking and a change in personnel Conor White coming on for Jez Conway the home side continued to huff and puff but not make any headway. In fact they were lucky not to find themselves two behind as, in the 53rd minute, James Marshall smashed a shot against the Cowes crossbar that I think was shaking for the rest of the game. In the 57th minute a Jason Ince corner was headed on by Harry Dye, but Nathan Lewis sent his effort over the bar. 62 minutes in and both sides made a change, Callum Watkins replaced Jason Ince for Cowes whilst Matt Casey came on for James Marshall for Brockenhurst. Finally Cowes started to threaten the visitors goal. Twenty minutes from time Connor Furmidge sent a 25 yard shot towards goal that bounced just in front of their Keeper who somehow managed too scoop the ball up over his crossbar for a corner. Leon Carbayo-Borges was then replaced by Jude Nwachukwu for the Badgers. Cowes again came close to equalising when another Connor Furmidge effort at goal was fumbled by Ed Kircher in the Brockenhurst goal, but again lady luck was with the visitors as the ball was cleared. The final seventeen minutes were largely anonymous. Tom Dye(77) was brought on for Cowes in place of his brother Harry before Mitchell Speechley-Price limped off to be replaced by Aaron Dunne. Tommy Barnes was yellow carded in the 81st minute for a crude tackle on Connor Furmidge before the home crowd winced as a knee high assault by Ronan Moore on Tom Dye left Cowes fearing the worst, a repeat of a previous injury that kept Tom out of football for around three to four years. A red card was promptly shown to the Brockenhurst left back and thankfully Tom got back up after treatment to finish the game, although stud marks to his leg were visible at the end. Cassius Newton then took out Max Draper close to the touchline to earn a yellow card for himself. The visitors though saw out the remainder of the game with great ease to move four points ahead of the Yachtsmen in the table.
The Yachtsmen’s disappointment at their defeat was tempered slightly with the news that Newport had lost at Baffins Milton Rovers (2 – 1), Amesbury lost 0 – 4 at Sholing and Team Solent lost 0 – 5 at Horndean, so not much damage done thankfully.
COWES SPORTS – Ed Hatt, Max Draper, Jez Conway(replaced by Conor White 46), Callum Chase, Aidan Bryan, Jason Ince(replaced by Callum Watkins 62), John McKie, Nathan Lewis, Connor Furmidge, Harry Dye(replaced by Tom Dye 77), Gareth Bricknell (c), Unused Subs; Leigh Mackenzie + Sam Sanders g/k
BROCKENHURST – Edward Kitcher, Tommy Barnes Bkd, Ronan Moore S/O, Ben Kelly, Matthew Burt (c), Cassius Newton Bkd, Leon Carbayo-Borges(replaced by Jude Nwachukwu 72), Tobi Falodi, Mitchell Speechley-Price(replaced by Aaron Dunne 79), James Marshall(replaced by Matthew Casey 62), Matthew Sheedy, Unused Subs; Tom Rose + Matthew Taylor g/k
FOOTNOTE:- With the Yachtsmen’s game at Amesbury Town on Saturday the 24th postponed due to a frozen pitch, results saw Newport draw at home to Shaftesbury and both Brockenhurst (3 – 1 at Baffins Milton Rovers) and Team Solent(3 – 0 at Petersfield Town) both winning, they are now seven points clear of Cowes, who do have two games in hand of Brockenhurst, whilst both Newport and Amesbury are nine points behind Cowes both with a game in hand.