TODAY (Saturday) is arguably the biggest day in Isle of Wight football for more than a decade.

Newport face Laverstock and Ford on home soil in the Wessex Division 1 play-off final this afternoon after dramatically beating Folland Sports in a penalty shoot-out at Smallbrook on Wednesday — with the mouthwatering prospect of joining Cowes Sports in the Wessex Premier Division next season, the prize.

Meanwhile, across The Solent, two Island sides will be at West Leigh Park, the home of Havant and Waterlooville, to play in Hampshire cup finals — Shanklin in the Saturday Trophy (the former Intermediate Cup) and Pan Community in the Saturday Vase.

Shanklin, who face Stoneham Reserves, will be desperate to go one better than last season when they lost to Brading Town in the Intermediate final, while Pan — with Isle of Wight Junior A Cup and Island League Division 2 titles under their belts — will be equally keen on making it a historic treble by beating Eastleigh side, St Francis.

Isle of Wight County Press: Joe Craig, wearing 10, rises to score Newport's equaliser against Folland Sports on Wednesday. Photo: Barbara CloseJoe Craig, wearing 10, rises to score Newport's equaliser against Folland Sports on Wednesday. Photo: Barbara Close

Newport, beset by problems off the field — delays in moving to a new ground in Whippingham and a legal battle with Ryde Saints over floodlighting at Smallbrook, now resolved — have had a superb season, in which they have remained in the top four for most of it.

After a gritty display against a tough Folland side, which left its mark with injuries ahead of the play-off final, Port co-manager, Steve Brougham, is quietly confident his lads can rise to the occasion.

“Folland are really hard to play against, they were dangerous, but we stuck to what we had to do, kept plugging away and just edged it,” said Steve.

Isle of Wight County Press: Newport's management team of Steve Brougham, left, and Stewart Shepherd. FILENewport's management team of Steve Brougham, left, and Stewart Shepherd. FILE

“It was a gutter when they scored with the last kick of extra time. No complaints about the penalty, but it made it really nerve-wracking knowing the whole season hinges on a shoot-out — you lose and whole season’s done.

“The lads worked really hard for that result. To arrive where we have, in the play-off final, the group has done fantastically well.

“Nothing is straightforward. We have some injuries to key players, so we don’t have a lot of time to work on them. Last minute decisions will have to be made.

Isle of Wight County Press: Newport skipper Martin McDonough aims to lead his side to victory against Laverstock and Ford in the Wessex league Division 1 play-off final at Smallbrook. Photo: Barbara CloseNewport skipper Martin McDonough aims to lead his side to victory against Laverstock and Ford in the Wessex league Division 1 play-off final at Smallbrook. Photo: Barbara Close

“It’s great we won, but we’ve got to do it all again because Laverstock are a really hard working side and if we can match that, then hopefully our football will take us through.

“It’s so big for the club. A club like Newport needs to be in the next league above, but the hardest thing is getting there.

“If we can go up, we’ll be fine in the Premier.”

Shanklin boss Paul Haward will not be taking anything for granted against Stoneham Reserves.

“We don’t know too much about them and vice-versa, but I’m expecting a tough game and go one further by winning the trophy,” he said.

Isle of Wight County Press: Shanklin's Nicky Vyse in action for Shanklin. Photo: Mathew WellsShanklin's Nicky Vyse in action for Shanklin. Photo: Mathew Wells

“I genuinely believe we have benefited from the experience of last season’s loss, which was our first Hampshire final in more than 120 years. To be in the final the next season will stand us in good stead.

“The club has grown and moved up to the next level. We’re in two cup finals, a semi and still in with a shout for the league. It shows we’re going in the right direction.

“A lot of lessons have been learned from last year. We have a fully fit squad to chose from, with no suspensions. We’ll soak up the atmosphere then, once the whistle goes, we’re just going to treat it as another game. Let’s hope it’s a special game for us.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Pan Community, in claret, will be searching for a historic treble in the final of the Hampshire Vase. Photo: Mathew Wells Pan Community, in claret, will be searching for a historic treble in the final of the Hampshire Vase. Photo: Mathew Wells

Pan boss, Steve Case, who celebrated winning the Division 2 title on Wednesday, with a 5-1 win at Seaview, has one very simple philosophy going into the Hampshire Vase final — to “just go out there and win it.”

“I think we’re going to win it. I thought it all along. St Francis have lost three on the bounce and dropped down in their league,” said Steve.

“We’ve got some very good players and we’re an up-and-coming side and there’s a real togetherness with the lads. They have a great team spirit.”

Newport’s game at Smallbrook kicks off at 3pm. Pan Community’s game kicks off at 11.30am and Shanklin’s starts at 2.30pm.