THE Yachtsmen slipped back into the bottom half of the Sydenhams Wessex Premier table after their third consecutive defeat last night (Tuesday).

Up against fourth-placed Hamble Club, the visitors began on the front foot and took the lead on 18 minutes when a cross from the Cowes left fell nicely for Richard Bridle, who controlled the ball and fired home from eight yards.

Hamble continued to boss the game as Cowes struggled too find any rhythm.

So it came as no surprise when the visitors doubled their lead just before the half hour mark — John Cole netting at the third attempt from six yards after Cowes keeper Ed Hatt saved a first shot and the second was blocked.

Hatt then pulled off a great reaction save just before half-time.

As a corner swung in from the right, it evaded the Cowes defence, but the Cowes stopper managed to clear the ball off the line.

Just a matter of minutes into the second half, any lingering hope of a Cowes comeback were ended when Coby Wilson curled the ball in from the left-hand corner of the Cowes area into the top right corner of the net, which gave Hatt no chance.

Cowes full back Conor White and a visitors' player were involved in a nasty clash of heads in a challenge in front of the main stand.

The Cowes player had too be replaced, with a cut just above his left eye, which needed hospital treatment.

Sixteen-year-old Sam Kirby came on at right back to replace White, accompanied by substitute Connor Furmidge, as the Yachtsmen hunted for a way back into the game.

The Yachtsmen had appeals for a penalty turned down when skipper, Gareth Bricknell, was fouled just inside the Hamble box, but the referee ruled the tackle took place just outside.

Jez Conway fired the resulting free kick straight at the Hamble keeper.

But Hamble continued to push for further goals and one of their substitutes, Nathan Lynch, saw his header hit the top of the bar.

Furmidge then fired an effort straight at the Hamble keeper before blazing the ball over the bar from six yards towards the end of the game.

Cowes, who now sit in 12th position, face 15th placed Bashley away in the league on Saturday.

Cowes Sports: Hatt, White, Sexton, Bryan, Brett, Broomfield, Chase, Jarvis, Conway, Bricknell (capt), Wykes. Subs: Kirby, Furmidge Pearson.