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Cowes Sports begin 2022 with a much-improved performance, twice hitting the woodwork after conceding a goal in the opening seconds of their game against Shaftesbury.

The match began with a minute’s applause for Yachtsman fan Rob McKie, father of Cowes Sports captain John McKie.

With some of the Cowes Reserve team suffering from Covid and being unable to replace missing 1st team players, the Yachtsmen drafted in 2 Island League players from other clubs: James Flux from Northwood and Josh Appell from Whitecroft & Barton.

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Disaster struck Cowes Sports in the 1st minute of the game when Cameron Beard sent a long ball to the dangerous Shaftesbury winger Ash Pope who rifled the ball past Ed Hatt in the top right corner of the Cowes goal. The Yachtsmen were unlucky not to concede a 2nd goal a minute later when Pope had a 2nd attempt parried for a corner by Ed Hatt.

The opening 20 minutes of the game were dominated by the away side, who set up camp in the Cowes half forcing a succession of corners. However, in the 26th minute John McKie forced a good save from Shaftesbury keeper Jordan Brooks when his low shot was pushed just past the left post.

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In the 40th minute, defender Scott McFarlane was forced off the pitch by injury to be replaced by Jez Conway. A minute before the half time break, John McKie was fouled on the edge of the Shaftesbury penalty area by Elton Maddocks, who was lucky not to get more than a yellow card, but the resulting free kick went high and wide of the Shaftesbury goal.

HT: Cowes Sports 0-1 Shaftesbury

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The Yachtsmen dominated territory and possession in the 2nd half but without being able to make the decisive breakthrough to level the score. In the 54th minute, Josh Appell was forced off the pitch with a cut eye, to be replaced by Jack Barsdell. In the 64th minute, a Ji Nash free kick found the head of Connor Furmidge in the Shaftesbury penalty area, for the Cowes centre forward to see his goal attempt bounce off the crossbar. Furmidge was then replaced by the fresh legs of attacking midfielder Aedan Coode.

Cowes then saw a further effort bounce off the woodwork in the 83rd minute when a quick free kick from Aedan Coode fell to John McKie who saw his effort clip the right upright. However, Cowes were lucky not to end the game trailing by 2 goals after Shaftesbury centre forward Aiden Shepard saw his shot crash off Ed Hatt’s crossbar in the 85th minute.

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FT: Cowes Sports 0-1 Shaftesbury

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Cowes Sports: Hatt, White, Mumford, McFarlane (Conway), Watson, Flux, Phillips, Appell (Barsdell), Furmidge (Coode), McKie (c), Nash Subs not used: Ricketts, Denness (gk)

After the game, Rockies manager Ollie Cherrett said:

“The spectators got their money’s worth. It was a close game between 2 sides who gave their all. The pitch was a great leveller. Westwood Park is never an easy place to come, and Cowes just kept going and going.”

For the Yachtsmen, manager Max Draper said:

“This was a much-improved performance against a top side. However, if you concede after a minute, then it’s always going to be hard. We can’t keep giving sides like Shaftesbury a leg up.

“It’s hardest when you don’t have confidence. But when we turn up, we can give any side a game.”

Defeat leaves the Yachtsmen in 16th place in the Wessex Premier with 25 points from 23 games.

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