THE Yachtsmen go into tomorrow's game at home to Portchester knowing that if they get the three points and Bemerton Heath Harlequins fail to do likewise, they will be playing Premier football in the Sydenhams Wessex League next season.

And it's their home form since striker John McKie took over the reins from sacked Vic Sanders that has turned them from almost odds-on certs for the drop to within four points (or less, depending on other results) of safety — an incredible feat in the context of their turbulent season.

Second bottom Bemerton Heath, six points adrift of Cowes, face Hamble Club away — the side the Yachtsmen beat on their travels last weekend.

Looking ahead to the Portchester game at Westwood Park, McKie, who has got back to his goalscoring best in recent weeks, said: "The boys are ready. It's all been building to this one game where we can finish the job.

"We've had a superb week with the quarter final Gold Cup win and a great training session yesterday (Thursday).

"They know what they need to do and I expect nothing less than three points.

"It would be great to do stay up with two games left. Coming into the role, I knew that staying up was our priority.

"But the one thing I wanted to be able to change was the mentality of the players — to have the asset of a winning mentality, not just in football, but in life, and I believe they have it now.

"They're disappointed now even when we win. They look for gaps to improve on to get stronger and work hard to add those elements to their game.

"Having said that, we don't celebrate mediocrity. So finishing near the foot of the table isn't anything to shout about.

"What we celebrate is the progress and change these players and the club have gone through.

"The difference in ten games since I took over has been phenomenonal. We've picked up 16 out of a possible 30 points so far with a plus-two goal difference, which speaks volumes.

"To stay up would be right up there in my football career, for sure. I always knew I would dabble in the management side at some point, so to know I've had an impact is all I was ever striving for."

Although McKie is being tight-lipped about taking on the managerial position permanently, he indicated a decision would be made between the club's committee and himself at the end of the season.

In Division 1 of the Sydenhams Wessex League, Newport will be striving to end their miserable three-match losing run away at Downton, the side which leap-frogged them into sixth last week.

East Cowes Vics take on second-bottom Andover Town away from home, with a win moving them up at least a place from eighth.

There are no Island League Division 1 games on this weekend, but Whitecroft and Barton will win their fifth title on the trot if they can beat ECS at home on Monday evening.

W&B, who have remained unbeaten all season in league and cup, have a busy week as they face Cowes Sports Reserves in the Isle of Wight County Press Challenge Cup final at St George's Park, Newport, on Thursday, kick-off 7.30pm.

They are also in the semi-finals of the Hampshire Intermediate Cup and the Isle of Wight Senior (Gold) Cup.

In Division 2, Carisbrooke United, the only team which can challenge Ryde Saints for second spot and promotion, entertain champions-elect Bembridge at Clatterford Rec tomorrow.

                             TOMORROW’S FIXTURES (SATURDAY)

Sydenhams Wessex Premier: Cowes Sports v Portchester.

Sydenhams Wessex Division 1: Downton v Newport; Andover Town v East Cowes Vics.

Andy Butler Sports Ground Specialist Isle of Wight Memorial Cup, quarter-finals: Binstead & COB v Ventnor; Brading Town v Pan Sports; Ryde Saints v ECS.

Harwoods Renault Island League, Division 2: Adgestone v Niton Community; Carisbrooke United v Bembridge; East Cowes Vics A v Oakfield.

Combination 1: Binstead & COB Reserves v Shanklin Reserves; Northwood St John Reserves v Whitecroft & Barton Sports Reserves; Oakfield Reserves v West Wight Reserves; Ryde Saints Reserves v Brading Town Reserves; Ventnor Reserves v ECS Reserves.

Combination 2 League Cup, Group B: Yarmouth & Calbourne Reserves v Wootton Reserves.

                                         MONDAY, APRIL 8

Harwoods Renault Island League, Division 1: Whitecroft & Barton Sports v ECS (KO 6pm).

                                        TUESDAY, APRIL 9

Harwoods Renault Island League, Division 2: Niton Community v Oakfield; Yarmouth & Calbourne v Ryde Saints (both KO 6pm).

                                      WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10

Combination 1: Brading Town Reserves v Oakfield Reserves (KO 6pm).

                                       THURSDAY, APRIL 11

Isle of Wight County Press Challenge Cup final: Cowes Sports Reserves v Whitecroft and Barton Sports (at St George’s Park, Newport, KO 7.30pm).