Saturday February 5th 2022                      The WESSEX League – Premier Division


played at The Camp & Satherley Stadium       Kick Off – 14:30       Attendance – 135

Referee:- Justyn Leonard                   Assistants – Anthony Lockley & Stuart Griffiths

Cowes Sports made the long trip to Portland Bill to take on Portland United in their latest League fixture. Buoyed by their mid week humbling of Baffins Milton Rovers the Islanders were in confident mood but knew they would have to battle to get anything from the game as their hosts had also humble Baffins the previous Saturday though had lost at Brockenhurst in mid week. Again changes to the line up were forced upon Manager Max Draper, four in total to the starting XI. Joe Adams, Aedan Coode and Ji Nash stepped up from the mid week bench and they were joined by Max Coshell. Gareth Bricknell, Jason Malcolmson and James Flux were unable to travel and John McKie dropped to the bench where Tommy Jackson and Kyle Kilroy joined him.

Team:- COWES SPORTS –  Edward HATT, Conor WHITE, Max COSHELL (70), Henry WEST, Jake WATSON, Joseph ADAMS (60), Finley PHILLIPS (c), Jimmy MUMFORD, Aedan COODE, Jack BARSDELL, Ji NASH (83)

Subs:- John McKIE (60), Tommy JACKSON (70), Kyle KILROY (83)

A very strong wind was blowing down the pitch from the clubhouse end and the home side had that wind at their backs in the first period. However it was the Yachtsmen who created the opportunity of the game just 3 minutes in when Jack Barsdell should off had a first time shot at goal but took a couple more touches to get into the box allowing defenders to recover and clear the danger. Minutes later and Portland sent in a cross from their right which had Ed Hatt scrambling back across his goal as the ball drifted wide of his right hand post.  However on 9 minutes another cross from the right was flicked home off the head of TROY WALBRIDGE to give the home side the lead. Confidence grew in the home side as they looked to take full advantage of the strong wind. However stoic defending from Cowes kept them in the game as they repelled everything thrown at them for the next half an hour and twice nearly found an equaliser when Jack Barsdell fired over and a low Ji Nash shot was saved by Mike Edgar in the home goal. Influential midfielder Franklyn Clarke tried his luck from distance in the 42nd minute which Ed Hatt did very well to push away but left winger BEN MORRIS was allowed so much space to control the ball before slotting it past Ed Hatt to double Portland’s lead. H-t 2 – 0 

The Isle of Wight side looked to make use of the wind in the second half and slowly started to put pressure on the home defence. On the hour Cowes pulled a goal back when Ji Nash swung a corner in from the right towards the near post where a defender, I think TROY WALBRIDGE, headed into his own net to bring Cowes back into the contest. Cowes immediately replaced Joe Adams with leading scorer John McKie. It took just three minutes for Cowes to level the scores, again from a corner. This time JACK BARSDELL swung the ball in from the left which found it’s way into the far side of the goal, the former Niton man’s first goal in Wessex football. Having been booked Max Coshell was then fouled near the half way line but the Referee gave nothing. Max was replaced by Tommy Jackson as the Referee threatened to give a second yellow. On 73 minutes John McKie was put through on goal and poked the ball past the home keeper but unfortunately the ball rolled the wrong side of the post from Cowes’ point of view. In the 80th minute Cowes finally got their noses in front when a long clearance from defence saw John McKie and JI NASH run onto the ball as it bounced over the home defenders before the latter poked the ball off Mike Edgar and it rolled into the net. The final seven minutes saw Kyle Kilroy replace Ji Nash for his 1st XI debut. Two minutes from time OLIVER COWLES was allowed to receive the ball wide on the Cowes right, he dribbled it past three challenges before firing past Ed Hatt’s left hand into the left side of the goal to earn the home side a point. A superb strike but disappointing defending. So the points were shared as Cowes reached 30 points to stay 16th with Portland just one place and point behind but having played a game more.