IT WAS a case of deja-vu for the Yachtsmen after they shipped in six goals against Alresford Town — the club which beat them 6-1 in the Hampshire Cup earlier this season. 

Caretaker manager and striker John McKie is under no illusions about the mammoth task he has on his hands to steer Cowes Sports away from the foot of the table after they were hammered in his first game in charge of the struggling side.Isle of Wight County Press:

However, the team's skipper and top scorer last season, who banged in over 30 goals for the Yachtsmen to keep them in the Sydenhams Wessex Premier under ex-England international Steve Hunt last season, remains positive.

The Yachtsmen went a goal down after six minutes when they were caught on the break from their own corner.

Conor White, in his efforts to keep up with the Alresford striker pulled up with a hamstring injury, which allowed the player to slot past Cowes keeper Ed Hatt with ease.

After Fin Phillips was unlucky with a volley straight at the home keeper, Hatt, wearing the captain's armband, did well to parry a shot away to safety.

But a contentious decision in the 27th minute cost Cowes dearly.

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Charlie Allen appeared to be fouled on the edge of his box but no foul was given, and the loose ball fell nicely for Town's Blaxhall to volley home from 22 yards.

Then Allen fouled a home player in the box to give away a penalty just before the break and, at 3-0 down, it was an uphill struggle for the Islanders.

Callum Chase tested the home keeper with a 30-yard strike and McKie had a volley beaten away and fired over before Cowes gave away a second penalty, Scott McFarlane the culprit, but it was missed.

Three further strikes followed by the home side to add gloss to their scoreline.

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Cowes have two tough matches coming up this week against mid-table Brockenhurst in the Sydenhams Wessex Premier league — away tomorrow (Tuesday) and then hosting them at Westwood Park on Saturday.

After the game, McKie was honest about the way the game went and what his struggling side need to achieve if they are to stay up this season.

"We were beaten by a very professional Alresford team. They've played together a while now and had a good mix of big, strong, physical players with fast, athletic youth in their side," explained McKie.

"They punished every mistake we made — and that's what you get at this level.

"I take sole responsibility for the first half, in particular — the tactics weren't quite right, but when we adjusted this at half time, the difference was so obvious.

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"It was clear that in spells, the work we've done in just two training sessions was extremely effective — but it was intermittent.

"This was to be expected. Nothing was going to happen instantly and we go into Tuesday with the strongest squad we've had this season.

"Nothing has changed in our mentality. We're all still really positive and the attitude the lads have shown — especially regarding the system we're trying to play and training — is top drawer.

"Naturally, I'm disappointed, but in my eyes, we win or we learn, and against Alresford we learnt a lot, which will only benefit us in the run of games to come."

Cowes Sports: Hatt (capt), White, Sexton, Brett, Allen, Broomfield, Cranwell, Chase, Conway, McKie, Phillips. Subs: McFarlane, Jarvis, Coode, Thurman.