ISLE OF WIGHT SENIOR (GOLD) CUP FINAL

                                             NEWPORT 4, COWES SPORTS 1

NEWPORT retained the coveted Isle of Wight Senior (Gold) Cup after they beat Cowes Sports 4-1 in front of a bumper 501-strong crowd at Beatrice Avenue, East Cowes, this evening (Tuesday).

It may be an old footballing cliche, but this was a classic game of two halves.

The Yachtsmen clearly went into the final with a game plan — and they pulled it off superbly in the first half.

Cowes stifled everything Newport could throw at them in the first half — and fully deserved their first half lead, when a viciously swerving free kick from the right by Ben Tickner, flicked off the head of Scott Sampson into the corner past the despairing dive of Joe McCormack on 16 minutes.

The goal had been coming.

As early as the second minute, Jez Conway blazed over from ten yards after McCormacck spilled a challenge from Ji Nash.

Isle of Wight County Press: Newport keeper Joe McCormack is unable to keep out a free kick which flicked off the head of Scott Sampson as an own goal. Photo: Barbara Close Newport keeper Joe McCormack is unable to keep out a free kick which flicked off the head of Scott Sampson as an own goal. Photo: Barbara Close

Isle of Wight County Press: Cowes Sports striker Ji Nash (in blue) gave Ryan Hughes of Newport a huge test in the first half. Photo; Barbara CloseCowes Sports striker Ji Nash (in blue) gave Ryan Hughes of Newport a huge test in the first half. Photo; Barbara Close

Nash, who looked lively all half, brought out a good stop from McCormack just before the goal.

Newport responded well and almost levelled when a jinking run down the left by Connor Kelly was crossed beautifully for Jordan Browne, whose flick header flew just over the upright.

Although Newport looked the more assured in possession, Cowes looked the more dangerous on the break.

Nash, playing out of his skin down the left, brought two very good saves from McCormack to keep Newport in the game.

Isle of Wight County Press: Newport's Jordan Browne, in possession, equalised with a header. Photo: Barbara CloseNewport's Jordan Browne, in possession, equalised with a header. Photo: Barbara Close

Isle of Wight County Press: Joe Craig, wearing 10, scored Newport's second. Photo: Barbara CloseJoe Craig, wearing 10, scored Newport's second. Photo: Barbara Close

Port's management team of Stewart Shepherd and Steve Brougham put things right for their off-colour outfit during the interval because they looked a different side in the second half.

Two minutes into the restart and Cowes were caught napping at the back — a superb Josh Younie corner swung in from the left found the unmarked Browne to nod home to level things.

You coud sense the goal settled Newport and kick-started their typically confident, attacking style of play, which had served them so well this season.

In the 65th minute, the yellows took the lead when a speculative overhead kick fell nicely into the path of Joe Craig, who was too strong for Tickner and he coolly slotted home under keeper, Ed Hatt.

Isle of Wight County Press: Scott Sampson was a colossus at the back for Newport all game. Photo: Barbara CloseScott Sampson was a colossus at the back for Newport all game. Photo: Barbara Close

Isle of Wight County Press: Connorr Kelly lets fly to score the best goal of the final to make it 3-1. Photo: Barbara CloseConnorr Kelly lets fly to score the best goal of the final to make it 3-1. Photo: Barbara Close

Cowes had a half-chance to equalise when a clever Fin Phillips ball found Nash in the box, but he snatched at his chance and it flew into the side netting when well placed.

But seconds later, a long ball down the left sat up nicely into the stride of Kelly, who smashed an unstoppable volley into the top corner past Hatt at full stretch on 69 minutes, to make it 3-1.

Newport then took control of the game — getting their passing game going and looking increasingly slick on the attack, while the blues chased shadows.

Port made the final safe when the alert Joe Butcher latched onto a long ball, shrugged off a defender and finished off an open goal after his first effort was half-saved by Hatt.

Isle of Wight County Press: Newport's Joe Craig in possession, being tracked by Fin Phillips, of Cowes Sports. Photo: Barbara CloseNewport's Joe Craig in possession, being tracked by Fin Phillips, of Cowes Sports. Photo: Barbara Close

Isle of Wight County Press: Newport's Josh Younie disposseses Cowes skipper Fin Phillips. Photo: Barbara CloseNewport's Josh Younie disposseses Cowes skipper Fin Phillips. Photo: Barbara Close

Cowes played some neat football towards the end and were unlucky not to score when a Darren Williams chest down fell nicely to Jimmy Mumford, who saw his shot go an inch wide.

After the game, Steve Brougham said: "I'm very proud of the boys. We played brilliantly in the second half and, after the season we've had, we deserved to win something."

Newport: McCormack, Hughes, Lamb, Hancott, McDonough (capt), Sampson, Kelly, Browne, Craig, Butcher. Subs: Harper, Reynolds, Wright, Pearce, Wetherick.

Cowes Sports: Hatt, Dempsey, Tickner, Watson, McFarlane, Cranwell, White, Mumford, Conway, Phillips (capt), Nash. Subs: Barsdell, Neale, Williams, Adams, Jackson.