Attendance – 142
In their final game before Christmas Cowes Sports entertained Fareham Town at Westwood Park in a game that was crucial for both sides at the wrong end of the table.
For the first time since taking charge of the side Manager Vic Sanders was able to name his strongest squad for this match. Only James Wykes was missing, Skipper John McKie returned to the starting line up as did Conor White following injury. Ewan Cranwell and Finley Phillips were back from University for the Xmas break and Ashley Brett was available. Aidan Bryan was also fit enough to take his place on the bench along with Callum Chase, Callum Watkins and Scott McFarlane with Ben Gearing being the sub keeper.
Despite heavy rain during the preceding week Westwood was in very good nick although soft in places. Early pressure from Cowes saw Fin Phillips send in a second minute cross for Gareth Bricknell whose shot was pushed over the crossbar by Declan McCarthy in the visitors goal. A minute later and Fareham gave away the ball near their own box but Gareth Bricknell, with the whole goal to aim at, fired too near their stopper who saved low down. As Cowes continued their bright start Gareth Bricknell turned provider when his cross found John McKie whose glancing header drifted wide of the goal. In the seventh minute Westwood was sent into raptures when Fin Phillips sent a curling cross from the left into the box, picking out top scorer JOHN MCKIE with only the keeper to beat which he duly did. Cowes held the lead for sixteen minutes until, against the run of play Fareham Town broke through the middle and SIMON WOODS buried the ball past Ed Hatt into the Cowes goal. Fareham Captain Craig Hardy then became the first player to see a yellow card following a challenge on Jez Conway. A mistake by Charlie Allen wide on the right was ceased upon by Simon Woods who bore down on the Cowes goal, Ed Hatt coming to the rescue by pushing Woods’ shot past the left post for a corner. A 37th minute Fareham corner saw Craig Hardy head the ball toward the bottom left corner of the Cowes goal but Dom Sexton was positioned on the post to clear the danger. Minutes before half time the Creeksiders again conceded possession near their own area, Jez Conway fired goalwards but again Declan McCarthy tipped the ball wide for a corner. Then their keeper again kept them level by getting a finger tip to push a Gareth Bricknell cross away from John McKie who would have had an easy tap in. So at the break the scores were level at one a piece, somehow!!
Aidan Bryan replaced Charlie Allen for the second half as Cowes went on the attack to get the win they wanted and on the first half showing deserved. Jack Broomfield hit one from 35 yards that took a deflection, enough to send the ball wide of the goal for a corner. Fin Phillips was next to try his luck from 22 yards which their keeper got down low to his right to push away for a corner. Cowes looked to liven things up a bit by sending Scott McFarlane on in place of Jez Conway before Callum Chase replaced the injured Conor White. In the 81st minute route one took over a s a quick long clearance from Ed Hatt found John McKie wide on the Cowes left, he outpaced his marker before sending a cross into the six yard box which was met by a diving header into the roof of the Fareham net by GARETH BRICKNELL, Westwood erupted with joy as the Yachtsmen held on to take three vital points in their fight to stay in the top Division.
Not the prettiest of games but three valuable points which is what was required and a sense of relief around Westwood ahead of the Christmas period. Cowes move up to 16th in the table, though having played more games than most.
Cowes Sports FC would like to wish everyone a MERRY CRISTMAS.
Referee:- KRASIMIR PETROV Assistants – Aaron Tree + Ben Orton
Edward Hatt, Conor White, Dominic Sexton, Ashley Brett, Charlie Allen, Jack Broomfield, Jez Conway, Ewan Cranwell, Gareth Bricknell, John McKie (c), Finley Phillips
Subs Used:- Aidan Bryan(Charlie Allen) 46, Scott McFarlane(Jez Conway) 68, Callum Chase(Conor White) 74
Unused Subs – Callum Watkins + Ben Gearing g/k