Saturday July 31st 2021       The WESSEX League Premier Division     Kick Off:- 14:00

                                  AMESBURY TOWN  0 (0)  v  2 (2)  COWES SPORTS                                  played at Bonnymead Park                                                                  Attendance:- 110

Match Officials:- Referee:- ADAM HILLIER    Assistants – Paul Bower + Jordan Cuthbertson


Subs:- Connor FURMIDGE, Billy BACKSHALL, Mitchell COX

Due to there being 21 teams allocated to the Wessex Premier Division and the League wanting all teams to have a competitive game before the FA Cup on August 7th, Cowes Sports travelled to Wiltshire to take on Amesbury Town in the first league game of the new campaign. The match was brought forward to a 2pm kick off because of the travel arrangements for the Islanders for which Cowes thank both Amesbury and The League for their help.

Manager Max Draper had a very stressful week leading up to the game with many players being unavailable for various different reasons, not knowing whether or not he would have a full squad but with some late additions The Yachtsmen managed to take 14 players to the game which gave several players the opportunity to show their talents, including five teenagers.

So the season got under way on a sunny day, expected showers failed to materialise. For the first ten minutes or so the pace was 100 miles an hour without any real quality. A seemingly coming together near the halfway line saw Referee Adam Hillier produce the first yellow card of the campaign shown to Cowes skipper Finley Phillips, most in the ground felt it was a very harsh decision. Shortly after the home sides striker, Chris Boothe sent Jez Conway tumbling and was not cautioned, he done similar 15 mins later and this time was only spoken to by the Referee. Joy for the Yachtsmen as on the 15 minute mark they took the lead when Dom Sexton sped down the left before giving the ball to JI NASH who sent a left footed effort passed the out stretched hand of Felix Davies into the bottom left corner of the home goal for a lead that they deserved. Jez Conway then made a timely challenge on Izzy Matonga to stop an immediate reply from the home side as Cowes started to dominate possession. Around the half hour mark new keeper Jamie Linnington had to venture outside his box to head clear an Amesbury attack, though the clearance fell nicely to Lukas Burt wide on the left, he sent a sweetly struck first time effort sailing towards the empty Cowes goal only to be denied an equaliser by Linnington who just managed to recover his position to palm the ball away for a corner. Five minutes from half time and a long clearance over the top sent Ji Nash racing towards goal only for Zac Pickett to bundle him to the ground on the edge of the “D”. As last man, the Referee had no option but to show the home centre half a straight red card. Double whammy for Amesbury as from the resulting free kick JEZ CONWAY fired the ball into the top left corner of the home goal to double the Yachtsmen’s lead. A couple of minutes before the break and Dom Sexton picked up a needless yellow card for kicking the ball away. Cowes were buoyant going into half time two goals ahead and with an extra man. H-t 0 – 2

As expected Cowes made the better start to the second half as James Wykes latched on to a clearance but clipped the ball over the cross bar. Chris Boothe then tested the Cowes keeper with a fierce shot that Jamie Linnington comfortably dealt with before Callum Pye-Poulter sent Ji Nash down the right, he cut inside but sent his left foot shot just wide of the right post. Boothe again brought the best out of Jamie Linnington who pushed the ball away for a corner. Both Ji Nash and James Wykes were unlucky not to increase Cowes’ lead as Felix Davies made two very good saves. Midway through the second half the visitors replaced Dom Sexton and Thomas Ashley with Connor Furmidge and 16 year old Billy Backshall before then bringing on another 16 year old, Mitchell Cox, for the injured Morgan Perrin. Late on Jimmy Mumford sent a shot just wide of the Amesbury goal. In the 88th minute a foul on James Wykes was disputed by right back Alex Fitzgerald who said a little too much and was sin binned for the remainder of the game. In injury time Connor Furmidge set up James Wykes but Felix Davis denied the Cowes player a decent block with his feet as the Yachtsmen took the three points on offer for a winning start to the season and top spot in the table, for three days at least.

A very pleasing result given the problems of getting a side for this game. All players were fantastic with Finley Phillips and Jimmy Mumford outstanding in midfield and Jez Conway commanding in defence. Lets hope that the Yachtsmen can show the same form against Moneyfields in midweek.

Billy Backshall(yellow bib) and Mitchell Cox(green bib) on the touchline.