Attendance – 199
So the penultimate home fixture for the 1st XI saw John McKie and his troops go into the game knowing that if they better Bemerton Heath Harlequins result at Hamble Club, then safety will be guaranteed for another campaign in the Wessex Premier Division next season. The visitors, AFC Portchester, had won three and drawn one of their previous six games plus they had beaten the Yachtsmen twice already this season, 1 – 0 in the League and 3 – 1 in the Wessex League cup, so a difficult match was expected and nothing taken for granted.
Four changes from the victory at Hamble Club saw Aidan Bryan, Fin Phillips, Ewan Cranwell and Jimmy Wykes come into the starting line up in place of Charlie Allen(injured), Callum Chase(holiday), Aedan Coode and Conor White(both on the bench).
Cowes started brightly and within two minutes John McKie tested Charlie Searle in the Portchester goal with a low shot that was well saved. The home side then took the lead in the 15th minute when John McKie controlled the ball in the box before teeing up CONNOR FURMIDGE who beat his marker then drilled the ball into the goal past the helpless keeper, much to the delight of most of the 199 crowd, the largest for a league game this season. Minutes later and top scorer John McKie was put through on goal with just the keeper to beat, but the Portchester stopper done well too block before Connor Furmidge looked as though he was fouled as he fired the loose ball goalwards, but nothing was given and the keeper saved. Portchester skipper then showed that the visitors were not to be taken lightly as he hit the Cowes upright after being played in by a team mate. Stuart McComnachie then fired a shot that took a deflection over the bar for a corner. It came as no surprise that in the 28th minute the Pompey side equalised. Jordan Brooks raced to the bye-line before pulling the ball back to STEVEN RAMSEY who smashed the ball past Ed Hatt from six yards. Nothing really happened for the next 15 minutes or so until, three minutes from the break Cowes suddenly found themselves behind when a free kick from the half way line looked to be an easy take for Cowes’ number one, but he twice fumbled the ball before STUART MCCOMNACHIE stole the ball and rolled it into the empty net. Stunned by this Cowes went into the break behind although news from Hamble filtered through that they were one up against Bemerton.
Five minutes into the second period and Jez Conway raced down the right before crossing to John McKie whose header came back off the crossbar and into the grateful arms of the Portchester keeper. Two bookings in quick succession for the visitors, Joshua Warren for a foul on Jimmy Wykes and Steven Ramsey for dissent. On the hour Cowes were forced into replacing Ewan Cranwell(ankle injury) with Jack Broomfield. A minute later and the Yachtsmen were further behind when STUART MCCOMNACHIE fired home from close range. From the restart Jack Breed found himself through on the Cowes goal, but Ed Hatt made a great block to keep his side in the game. The visitors Ben Buckland was then only shown a yellow card for a deliberate handball that halted a Cowes attack. Connor Furmidge then made way for Callum Watkins whilst Brodie Spencer came on for Olly Searle for the visitors. Dominic Sexton became the first Cowes player to be booked for a foul near the halfway line. In the 74th minute the Yachtsmen were given a lifeline as John McKie was fouled in the area by Craig Hardy who was only shown a yellow card with the crowd baying for a red as last man. JOHN MCKIE stepped up to bury the spot kick into the keepers left hand corner. New from Hamble was that they were two up. Connal Morrison was yellow carded before Stuart McComnachie was replaced by Efu Kazadi and Conor White came on for Jimmy Wykes. Michael Turvey came off for Joel Jackson but time was running out for the home side. Jez Conway set up John McKie but his late effort was parried away to safety. As the game entered injury time the late pressure that Cowes were putting on the Portchester defence paid off when from closed range after a bit of a goalmouth scramble substitute CALLUM WATKINS stabbed the ball into the goal for a richly deserved equaliser that meant so much to the Island side. Celebrations all round the ground were then tempered slightly as Bemerton scored at Hamble. Cowes played out the final few minutes without any problems to earn themselves a point that was later confirmed enough to confirm the Yachtsmen would be part of the Premier Division next season. The chorus of “We are staying up say we are staying up” could be heard from the home changing room.
A great show of character from the Islanders to come back from 3 – 1 down with 15 minutes too go too snatch that all important point.
Referee:- DEREK PRATT Assistants – Aaron Tree + Steve Currie
Edward Hatt, Jez Conway, Dominic Sexton, Aidan Bryan, Ashley Brett, Ewan Cranwell, Finley Phillips, John McKie, Connor Furmidge, Gareth Bricknell (c), Jimmy Wykes
Used Subs:- Jack Broomfield(Ewan Cranwell) 60, Callum Watkins(Connor Furmidge) 66, Conor White(Jimmy Wykes) 82
Unused Subs:- Aedan Coode + Ben Gearing g/k