THERE was festive cheer and sighs of relief in equal measure around Westwood Park after Cowes Sports gave their fans the perfect Christmas present — three valuable points in the Sydenhams Wessex Premier.

For the first time since taking charge of the side, Yachtsmen chief Vic Sanders was able to name his strongest squad so far for the match, with only Jimmy Wykes missing.

Early pressure from Cowes led to Gareth Bricknell’s shot being pushed over the bar by the visiting keeper.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Gareth Bricknell, who got on the score sheet for Cowes against Fareham.

Cowes continued their bright start and in the seventh minute, Fin Phillips sent in a curling cross from the left, which picked out John McKie who finished with aplomb.

But on 16 minutes, against the run of play, Fareham broke through the middle to fire past Ed Hatt in the Cowes goal.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cowes Sports left winger Fin Phillips whips in a great cross for John McKie to score the opener against Fareham Town.

Hatt came to the rescue by pushing a shot around the post, before Fareham’s keeper tipped a Jez Conway shot wide, then a Bricknell cross away from McKie, poised for an easy tap-in.

Cowes kept pressing for a second, with Jack Broomfield striking from 35 yards, deflected wide, followed by a Phillips shot from 22 yards, which was well saved.

Isle of Wight County Press:

A Jez Conway strike is well saved by Fareham's keeper.

In the 81st minute, a long clearance from Hatt found McKie, who outpaced his marker to send a pin-point cross into the middle, met by a superb diving header into the roof of the Fareham net by Gareth Bricknell.

The win hoisted Cowes to 16th.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cowes Sports: Hatt, White, Sexton, Brett, Allen, Broomfield, Conway, Cranwell, Bricknell, McKie (capt), Phillips. Subs: Bryan, McFarlane, Chase, Watkins, Gearing.