Saturday August 3rd, Sydenhams Football League(Wessex)
ALRESFORD TOWN 2 (0) COWES SPORTS 0 (0)
PLENTY OF POSITIVES DESPITE DEFEAT FOR YACHTSMEN
played at Arlebury Park, Attendance – 39
Referee – TOM BAINES Assistants; Simon Holman + Harry Johnson-Hill
So the 2019/20 season began with the Yachtsmen on their travels to Alresford Town expecting a tough match.
With Manager, Steve Rutter, and Assistant, Joe McCormack both away on pre arranged holidays, Alex Smith was left in charge for this tough opener. Stalwart Aidan Bryan was unavailable as was Ashley Brett(cricket) and Jez Conway(suspended) so options were limited.
Team:- Edward Hatt, Conor White, Jacob Jarvis, Joe White, Ewan Cranwell, Callum Chase, Scott McFarlane, Gareth Bricknell (c), Jimmy Wykes, Michael McEnery, Finley Phillips, Subs: Ji Nash, Isaac Cruise, Aedan Coode, Dave Thurman g/k.
A debut for Joe White at centre half, starts for youngsters Jacob Jarvis and Scott McFarlane along with much travelled Michael McEnery up front. The home side were much changed from last season with experienced forward Craig McAllister leading their front line.
Early home pressure was soaked up by the Yachtsmen, Ed Hatt comfortably saving an 8th minute free kick from George Bennett. Cowes were working hard and their first chance came in the 12th minute when skipper Gareth Bricknell clipped the ball to the far post, but Jimmy Wykes’ volley flew across the face of goal wide of the right hand post. Minutes later and Scott McFarlane crossed and Finley Phillips first time shot was saved by Declan McCarthy in the home goal. Sixteen minutes in and the Island side thought they had taken the lead when Jimmy Wykes shot was only pushed away by their keeper straight to Michael McEnery who tapped the ball into the goal, but the celebrations were short lived as the Assistants flag was raised for offside. Gareth Bricknell then latched onto a Callum Chase pass but could only drag his effort wide. From around 25 minutes until the half time whistle chances were at a premium as both defences nullified the opponents attacks. For a top ten side, Alresford looked very disjointed and were unable to create any worthwhile chances as the game remained goal less at the break.
An early drop ball in the second half, was sent long by the home keeper, flick on to Craig Harding whose goal bound effort was blocked away for a corner. In the 48th minute Alresford took the lead. A long throw from the Cowes right was not cleared by the Islanders before it fell to CRAIG HARDING to poke home from inside the six yard box. Shaun Dallimore became the first player to be shown a yellow card for a nasty tackle in front of the home dugout. George Hallahan was then played in one on one with Cowes stopper Ed Hatt who made himself big to block the shot. At the other end a great knockdown by Michael McEnery saw Fin Phillips lift the ball inches over their crossbar with the keeper beaten. Shortly after Fin Phillips, who had picked up a slight knock, was replaced by the returning Ji Nash. In the 65th minute the home side, somewhat fortuitously added a second, a ball into the Cowes box saw Joe White fouled in the six yard box, but the Ref, who had a pretty good game, gave nothing and the ball fell nicely for them to score, again from close range. The second goal knocked the stuffing out of the Cowes side and the remainder of the game petered out with very little action at either end. Aedan Coode(77) and Isaac Cruise(86) replaced Jimmy Wykes and Michael McEnery respectively before the final whistle was blown.
I think Alresford were happy to settle for the three points and pick up their brown envelopes after a unconvincing game, although with a load of new players I am sure they will improve as the season progresses. For the Yachtsmen it could be a long season unless they can find some goals from somewhere, but their fight and determination was a big positive.