In what was very much a ‘six-pointer’ near the foot of the table, Newport, without a win in 2018, faced a Cowes side with a nine point advantage in nineteenth place. A win in the ‘big island derby’ would have reduced the deficit to six points, with ‘the Port’ having two games in hand. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be.
Newport came into the match close to full strength, with only two regular first team players missing from action: Will Quigley—who was replaced by Keelan Sainsbury, and Aiden Sainsbury, who had been replaced by the experienced Martin McDonough. For once ‘the Port’ had strength in depth, with three formidable players on the substitutes bench—Belgian striker, Aurele Beya; utility player, Jared Wetherick; and experienced midfielder, Darren Powell—as well as the promising youngster, Aidan Radford.
Newport kicked off playing towards the Allotments End, on a soft pitch, on a cold but fine late winter evening.
The game began inauspiciously for ‘the Port’, with two bookings in the first ten minutes for the home side: Liam Newbold and Mark Taylor both being yellow carded. The reverse fixture had seen two Newport sendings off in August; however, the referee Derek Pratt’s insistence on penalising the home team’s players may have limited their willingness to commit themselves to the tackle right from the very start of the game.
Newport had some half-chances in the early stages, with Liam Newbold and Keelan Sainsbury both taking pot shots from a distance; however, it was Cowes who applied most of the pressure, with shots coming from Conor Furmidge in the 6th minute and Jimmy Wykes in the seventh. In a foretaste of what was to come later on in the game, in the 21st minute John McKie struck the ball across the face of Gary Streeter’s goal, but fortunately no-one was there to connect.
Then, shortly after, in the 22nd minute, Cowes pressure paid off, with McKie making a run into the penalty area, his shot taking a deflection off a Newport defender and skidding past a wrong-footed Streeter. Newport 0–1 Cowes.
Cowes continued to press after their goal, with the menacing McKie forcing a save off Streeter in the 24th minute with a low strike. The referee was to add to Newport’s woes, with both Lewis Wright and Spike Pearce being yellow carded before the half-time break. ‘The Port’ had few chances, barring a long, promising 42nd minute run by Charlie Urry into the Cowes penalty area, which ended with the Newport centre forward shooting over the bar.
Half-time: Newport (IoW) 0–1 Cowes Sports
The second half could not be faulted for incident or entertainment, yet ultimately ended in bitter disappointment for the home side.
It began dramatically enough when, in the 49th minute, Newport striker, Charlie Urry, found himself up-ended deep in the penalty area and the referee had little hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. It was Charlie himself who took the penalty, striking the ball cleanly and powerfully … and hitting the crossbar. The rebound landed at his feet, once again Charlie launched the ball towards the Cowes goal, only for the ball to be parried off the body of a Cowes defender. Yet again the ball returned to the luckless Mr Urry, and yet again the ball was struck with some force towards the Cowes goal only to be blocked by a resourceful Cowes defence, with the ball eventually going out for a Newport corner.
It wasn’t too long before ‘the Port’ were punished for their failure to convert a penalty, when, in the 53rd minute, Conor Furmidge sent a through ball to John McKie who rounded the keeper to give Cowes a 0–2 lead.
Cowes, however, were not given the chance to relax on their two goal cushion. In the 59th minute, Conor Kelly found himself free and sent a low shot past Ed Hatt in the Cowes goal to offer hope for the home side. Newport 1–2 Cowes.
Newport’s chances of saving the game were dealt a blow when, in the sixtieth minute, attacking midfielder Emerson Tattersall, who had been limping since the thirtieth minute, was forced to come off, and former Cowes player, Jared Wetherick, added his physical presence to the Newport attack.
‘The Port’ were, by now, strongly committed to attacking play, but this left them dangerously exposed at the back, especially from John McKie’s incisive runs. In the 68th minute, Newport were punished for their attacking play, when McKie latched on to long ball from Conor White, who first got past a defender, then rounded the keeper, to score his hat trick. Newport 1–3 Cowes.
Mike Kelly then used his final tactical option to recover the game for ‘the Port’, when he threw on the skilful Belgian striker Aurele Beya in place of teenage midfielder, Lewis Wright.
Cowes soon discovered they could not let up their guard when, in the 77th minute, they left their former player, Jared Wetherick, unmarked on the edge of their penalty area, who promptly penalised the away side for some lackadaisical defending by dispatching the ball into the back of Ed Hatt’s net. Newport 2–3 Cowes.
Was there now sufficient time for ‘the Port’ to salvage a point or even snatch an unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat? Unfortunately not. In the 82nd minute. Cowes centre forward, Conor Furmidge was to beat Gary Streeter from 18 yards out to put the game beyond the home side’s reach. Newport 2–4 Cowes.
The end of the match saw one further Newport booking (Conor Kelly 84), the fifth of the game for the home side, presumably for protesting what had appeared to him to have been an offside goal. There was also time for Aurele Beya to show a little of his undoubted talent, when, in the third minute of injury time, he volleyed the ball just over the crossbar.
Full time: Newport (IoW) 2–4 Cowes Sports
Newport, in 20th place, are now twelve points behind Cowes in nineteenth place, with two games in hand.This Saturday, 17 March, Newport face Fareham Town.
Goals: Newport: Kelly 59, Wetherick 77 Cowes: McKie 22, 59, 68 Furmidge 82
Yellow Cards: Newport: Newbold, Taylor, Wright, Pearce, Kelly Cowes: Furmidge
Newport: Streeter, Newbold, K. Sainsbury, Taylor, Pearce, McDonough, Wright (Beya), Triggs, Urry, Kelly, Tattersall (Wetherick) Subs not used: Radford, Powell
Cowes: Hatt, White, Wykes, Chase, Conway, Lewis, McKie, Dye (McKenzie), Furmidge (Watkins), Appell, Bricknell Subs not used: Ince, Holdsworth, Saunders
Referee: Derek Pratt