SATURDAY’S match at mid-table Hamworthy was the perfect storm for the Yachtsmen — playing with a depleted squad and fielding a young and inexperienced team, in horrendous weather conditions and beset with travel problems.

That was the assessment of Cowes manager Vic Sanders after his team took a pounding in the only game to survive the weather in the Sydenhams Wessex Premier.

Cowes talisman John McKie was back in the starting line-up, following almost two months of injury problems, but they had a nightmare first half, in which they shipped four of the five goals conceded.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cowes Sports skipper John McKie returned to the starting line-up against Hamworthy United following injury.  FILE

On the backfoot from the whistle, playing into driving rain and gale force winds, the Islanders found Hamworthy’s tall, physical side, more than a handful on their astro pitch.

Cowes conceded their first directly from Hamworthy’s first corner on six minutes, with the second, a chip over keeper Ed Hatt on 21 minutes after the striker had chested the ball between two Cowes defenders.

The home keeper made a simple save from a 20-yard Scott McFarlane effort, but further goals were added in the 27th and 40th minutes.

McKie, wearing the captain’s armband, was replaced at half time by Callum Watkins.

The second half showed the team’s great spirit, pride and camaraderie by playing the better football.

Watkins had a chance to pull one back when, unmarked ten yards out, headed wide from a corner.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cowes Sports boss Vic Sanders.  FILE

Although Cowes were seeing plenty of the ball, they were not creating enough chances in the final third.

The Yachtsmen, pushing for a consolation goal, were undone by a breakaway strike on 81 minutes.

With five minutes remaining, Gareth Bricknell forced the Hamworthy keeper into a save.

After the game, Sanders was bitterly disappointed with the result, blaming the circumstances he and his side faced on the day.

“We still had seven players out — five of which would be first choice, for sure,” said Sanders.

“We were also unlucky in the sense that if the game was not being played on astro turf, it would have been called off, like all the others — not to mention us being on the road for 12 hours for a 90-minute game because of all the cross-Solent travel problems.

“John McKie played half a game and got through it, which is a bonus, and I’m expecting quite a few back for Saturday’s game at home to Fareham.

“But with so many regulars out, I had no choice but to play two 16-year-olds, who did their best, and others aged 17 and 18.

“To be perfectly honest, it was men against boys out there.

“With the height of their centre backs and striker, and Hamworthy playing so high up the pitch, forcing our keeper to kick, it was never going to be easy for us in the first half.

“With such a young side, playing into the rain, which was really belting down, and the very strong winds, on an artificial pitch, was something we had trouble coping with.

“At half time, I told the players not to cave in and to just play their football — and they responded. We were the better side and they could not have given me more.

“They were playing not only for their pride, but also for their positions in the team.

“I can understand the frustrations Steve Hunt had when he managed the team last season. I’ve not had the same team out on the pitch for two games running, for one reason or another.

“Every point counts. I need to get everybody back fit and make sure I’ve got a strong side out for the Fareham game.”

The Yachtsmen face Fareham Town at Westwood Park on Saturday, weather permitting, kick-off 3pm, then Baffins Milton Rovers a week later.

Cowes Sports: Hatt, Kirby, Jarvis, Sexton, Allen, Broomfield, Conway, McFarlane, Bricknell, McKie, Coode. Subs: Watkins, Cosnell, Thurman.

  • In last week’s match report between Cowes Sports and Horndean, it was incorrectly stated the Yachtsmen had slipped into the relegation zone as the third bottom club. Following a restructure of the Sydenhams Wessex leagues in the close season, it means only the bottom club in the Premier division are guaranteed relegation, with possibly the second bottom club going down with them.