MATCH OFFICIALS: Referee – LINDA LINDSKOG
Assistants – Ashley Hallett + Mark Rogers
Cowes Sports made their longest away journey to The Weyline Stadium, home of Portland United. As soon as the Coach left the Red Funnel ferry the snow began to fall and it got steadily heavier until we reached the Bournemouth area. Portland’s ground is situated at the top of a steep hill and is most certainly exposed to the elements as we found out!! Upon arrival the snow had returned to add to the bitterly cold easterly wind, apparently the wind chill temp was around -6 to -8 and it felt like it.
With Gareth Bricknell suspended for two games(10 bookings), Nathan Lewis back in London and Josh Appell and Callum Watkins not available Steve Hunt was forced into changes bringing in 18 year old reserve team centre half James Whitewood for his 1st XI debut, Jason Ince and Leigh Mackenzie starting with Charlie Allen and Jack Broomfield joining Ben Holdsworth on the bench.
Buoyed by their ‘Derby’ victory the Yachtsmen started well playing into the strong wind in the first half. John McKie broke down the Cowes right before Connor Furmidge then Leigh Mackenzie both had shots blocked by home defenders. John McKie then went at the home defence on his own but shot wide. The home side then created a couple of chances for themselves but failed to trouble Ed Hatt. Conor White then sprinted down the right before setting up John McKie but his shot hit the side netting. Having already dealt with a couple of inswinging corners the game turned in the 20th minute when another such corner saw Ed Hatt come off his line but fail to get the ball which ended with RYAN MCKECHNIE heading home from eight yards to give the home side the lead. Things got worse for the Islanders just five minutes later when a low shot from at least 30 yards out by TOM BEARWISH left Ed Hatt flat footed as the ball found the bottom right corner of the net. Portland began to dominate and Ryan McKechnie went close with a 33rd minute header at the back post before a third goal was added. A quick break down the Cowes left was crossed into the area for SEAN ZIMA to fire home. Billy Mitchell then saw his goal bound shot superbly saved by Ed Hatt before James Whitewood cleared another effort off the line. Portland were not to be denied a fourth goal on the stroke of half time when Ed Hatt produced another good save to deny Sam Buckler adding his name to the score sheet, but the ball was crossed back in for TOM BEARWISH to volley home from 15 yards to leave Cowes totally demoralised at half time.
H-T 4 – 0
Cowes made a change at half time replacing Jez Conway with Ben Holdsworth meaning a change of formation. Within two minutes Cowes should have been given the chance to get themselves back into the game when John McKie was brought down inside the area, but the Referee, Linda Lindskog made her one mistake of the game by waving away the Cowes appeals, giving a throw to Cowes instead. Even the home players admitted it was a penalty. Ben Holdsworth nearly took advantage of some poor defending by their keeper, but he recovered to save the Cowes substitutes effort. Jimmy Wykes curled a shot just over the bar as Cowes threatened but could not find the finish that was required. Tom Bearwish was then put through on goal but Ed Hatt saved well and watched the rebound sail wide. Mid way through the half the Island sides chances were hit when John McKie limped off to be replaced by Charlie Allen. Alex Halloran then saw his shot parried away by Ed Hatt before further problems for the visitors as they lost Jimmy Wykes to injury, Jack Broomfield coming on. With Cowes’ main goal threat gone both sides seem to settle for the result and were grateful for the final whistle.
Special praise for the Match Officials, in particular Referee Linda Lindskog who, apart from the penalty decision had a fantastic game, one of, if not the best Referee seen this season, and despite the temperatures wore a short sleeved shirt.
Must also say that the members, Committee etc of Portland United FC were by far the most welcoming and friendly that we have encountered this season. All a credit to their club and to the League.
COWES SPORTS – Ed Hatt, Conor White, James Wykes(replaced by Jack Broomfield 74), Callum Chase, James Whitewood, Jez Conway(replaced by Ben Holdsworth 46), John McKie (c)(replaced by Charlie Allen 67), Tom Dye, Connor Furmidge, Jason Ince, Leigh Mackenzie
PORTLAND UNITED – Sean Lillington, Ashley Smith(replaced by Aiden Jackson 68), Daniel Payne, Samuel Buckler (c), Lewis Whyton, Ryan McKechnie, Billy Mitchell, Alex Halloran, Robinson Okumo(replaced by Josh Camp 79), Tom Bearwish, Sean Zima(replaced by Luke Hankin 83) , Subs not Used; Shaun Bessant + Chris Wilson