Saturday February 12th                     The WESSEX League – Premier Division


played at Westwood Park                      Kick Off – 14:30                   Attendance – 110

Referee:- Anthony Cross                           Assistants – Andrew Jones & Callum Allen

League action again for the Yachtsmen as they entertained United Services Portsmouth in a mid table clash with the Island side looking to avenge the 1 – 4 defeat suffered in Portsmouth the last game before the Christmas break. Max Draper made four changes to the side beaten in mid week as Jason Malcolmson and Ji Nash returned to the starting XI along with new signing from Chichester City via Horndean, Scott Jones who made a couple of appearances prior to last seasons lockdown. Another new face on the bench was Shay Dixon from Sandown & Lake, son of former Yachtsmen Lee Dixon.

Team:- COWES SPORTS – Edward HATT, Conor WHITE (68), Jason MALCOLMSON, Henry WEST, Jake WATSON, James FLUX (65), Finley PHILLIPS (c), Jimmy MUMFORD (46), Scott JONES, John McKIE, Ji NASH

Subs:- Aedan COODE (46), Joseph ADAMS (65), Jack BARSDELL (68), unused – Darren WILLIAMS + Shay DIXON.

Early showings probably had the visitors edging proceedings as they looked to cause the home defence a few problems. Seven minutes in and a strong run into the area saw the visiting winger fall over looking for a penalty but nothing was given. USP’s Joe Johnson then cut in from the Cowes right past Conor White but sent his shot into the side netting. The home side finally stirred in the 16th minute when Finley Phillips saw his shot deflect off a defender and away for a corner. Finley’s corner was delivered in towards the six yard line where JAKE WATSON touched the ball into the net to open the scoring. Cowes continued to struggle to find any rhythm to their paly but the visitors failed to trouble the home defence. Then, out of the blue, Cowes doubled their advantage when on the half hour mark some neat play down the right saw Scott Jones’s cross headed up in the air by John McKie and the ball fell nicely to skipper FINLEY PHILLIPS who placed his shot into the bottom left hand corner of the Service’s net. the Pompey side responded and within a minute a thunderous Joe Johnson effort cannoned off the Cowes crossbar. Shortly before the break Cameron Quirke tried his luck with a shot from around 30-35 yards which Ed Hatt plucked out of the air with ease as the home side went into the break with a comfortable looking two goal lead. H-t 2 – 0 

At the start of the second half Jimmy Mumford was replaced by Aedan Coode. A throw from in front of the clubhouse found Scott Jones who saw his shot saved by Dylan Kramer in the Service’s goal. Cowes broke up a Navymen attack and broke quick themselves and at one point had five attackers against two defenders but slow thinking allowed the visitors to recover and clear the danger. Alex Barsa got to the bye line before pulling the ball back to Simon Woods but his effort sailed well over the bar. John McKie  then saw his 56th minute shot blocked and the loose ball fall to Finley Phillips who chipped the ball towards goal but Tom Jeffes done well to clear the ball before it crossed the line. Again “out of the blue” the visitors were back in the game when in the 58th minute LUKE SLADE poked the ball past Ed Hatt to score. This stirred the Yachtsmen and inside three minutes the two goal advantage was restored when from a throw on the left and some neat one touch football saw Finley Phillips pass to JI NASH on the left edge of the box, he cut back inside his marker and neatly curled the ball past the outstretched right hand of Dylan Kramer into the right corner of the goal. Joseph Adams replaced James Flux in the 65th minute before Conor White was forced off with a head injury, Jack Barsdell coming on. The result really should have been put beyond doubt in the 72nd minute when John McKie was put through on goal to the right of the area, he rounded the keeper with ease but saw his shot come back off the left hand post for which he got some stick from a relative stood by the goal. In the 85th minute a Ji Nash corner was headed up in the air towards the goal before again being cleared off the line. Seconds before the end Ji Nash picked the ball up mid way in their half beat two defenders made his way into the box only to see his shot pushed away for a corner by their keeper.

A great result for the Yachtsmen even though they did not play to their full potential but enough for three points that movers them up to 15th on 33 points and just two points behind U S Portsmouth. With other results it also means that another five points will guarantee Premier Division football again next season.