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Promotion chasing Newport, who are currently 2nd in Wessex League 1, will tonight (Tuesday) face struggling East Cowes Vics, who are 17th – just 1 place above the division’s drop zone.

The fixture was due to be played at Beatrice Avenue on 27th December but was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Newport are officially the ‘home’ side: the game having been switched from Smallbrook Stadium due to inadequate floodlighting.

Newport go into the game in fantastic form. They are currently the leading scorers in Wessex League 1 with 84 goals from 23 games, hitting the net at the remarkable rate of 3.65 goals per game. The Port’s 2 games in 2022 have seen them destroy Downton 7-1 at Beatrice Avenue, before vanquishing Verwood Town 1-6 on Saturday.

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The Port have managed to attract the cream of Isle of Wight footballers. Their forward line of Joe Butcher, Jordan Browne, and Connor Kelly – all prolific scorers – is probably the strongest in the division. Others within their talented and experienced side are also more than capable of hitting the back of the net: free ranging midfielder Joe Craig, dead ball specialist Josh Younie, and central defender and powerful header of the ball, Spike Pearce.

The county town side have recently strengthened their side with the addition of Joe Hancock: the youngest player ever to have appeared in a Pompey shirt in the post-war era. 2 highly talented teenagers – Ryan Hughes and Jake Wright – have returned to the side after brief spells with Southern League Gosport.

Fortunately, despite Newport’s well documented off-field problems following the loss of their St George’s Park ground, the playing squad have remained loyal to the County Town club – much to the relief of the experienced management team of Steve Brougham and Stewart Shepherd.

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Co-manager Stewart Shepherd said of the game at Beatrice Avenue:

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“It’s just another game, but a bit different because it’s a derby and there’s always an edge to derbies. We have to earn a victory: no team has a divine right to win. We have a full squad with no absences, so team selection will be a ‘nice’ headache for us. We feel confident but are not taking anything for granted.”

Vics’ young side have had a difficult time of late. The East Cowes side a currently on a long winless run of 8 games stretching back to 21st November last year when they beat Petersfield Town 2-1. However, Vics put in a good performance on Saturday when they were unlucky to lose 1-2 against a strong New Milton side.

Lacking in older, experienced players, apart from defender Ryan Gregory (who is still in his mid-20s) – Vics have put their faith in youth. The East Cowes side have not been afraid to give teenagers the chance to blossom in the 1st team and are currently nurturing the talents of the following young players: Charlie Marsek, Toby Snow, Charlie Southcott and Kade Woodford. The main attacking threat for Vics comes from former Newport striker Jimmi Burton, who has hit the back of the net 19 times in the season to date.

Wily Vics manager Richard Woodburn said of the forthcoming fixture:

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“It’s obviously a tough one for us against a side on top of their game currently, but all the pressure and expectations are on Newport. No motivation is required our end due to the nature of the game. If we take the same attitude and discipline we showed Saturday into tomorrow, local supporters will enjoy a decent competitive game!”

Let’s hope the Port v Vics derby will be a fantastic advert for Isle of Wight football, attracting a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd. Kick-off is at 19:45.

The corresponding fixture, played on 30th August 2021, ended in a 0-5 victory for the Port. A video (by AJH Vision) of the highlights of the game can be viewed below:

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