This was W&B’s second crucial victory in a week, having beaten 2nd-placed rivals Shanklin FC on Tuesday to return to their usual position at the top of Island League 1.
Whitecroft & Barton had 3 Wessex League Newport players in their starting line-up: flying full back Ryan Hughes, Newport captain Marty McDonough and the very promising Jake Wright. The strength of the W&B team was such that a further Port Wessex League player, Joe Craig, as well as the formidable striker and former Newport player-of-the-year, Charlie Urry, were both left on the substitutes’ bench.
Brading Town could call on the services of Newport centre-forward Jordan Browne with a second Port forward, Josh Younie, warming the bench.
In a competitive and sometimes bad-tempered match, the Romans could make little headway against the reigning champions. W&B started the game on the front foot, swiftly scoring 3 first half goals and then soaked up pressure from the away side for the rest of the game. Whitecroft & Barton’s poor discipline, resulting in the sinbinning of 2 of their players, could have given Brading the opportunity to make an unlikely come-back, but a toothless and profligate Romans’ attack squandered all their chances.
W&B opened the scoring with just 4 minutes on the clock when Aidan Sainsbury put Matt Evans through for the W&B forward to score from an acute angle. (1-0)
The home side’s second goal was pure comedy when George Colson attempted a back pass to Roman’s keeper Ben Gearing only for the Brading keeper to deflect the ball into the back of his own net on the half hour mark. (2-0)
At around this point in the game tempers were getting a little frayed with Joe Rayner and Josh Appell both finding their way into the referee’s notebook for scuffling with the opposition.
The first half went from bad to worse for the visitors when W&B forward, Matt Evans, poked the ball into the back of the net from 5-yards out from a corner in the 35th minute (3-0).
The first half ended in controversy when Brading defender, Macaulay Barnes, appeared to have been felled by a flying elbow from a W&B player in an off-the-ball incident that went unpunished by referee, Ali Taylor.
HT: Whitecroft & Barton Sports 3-0 Brading Town
The second half saw a great deal of effort from the visitors, who were unable to break down a determined and well-organized W&B defence. Whitecroft & Barton appeared the more likely of the 2 sides to score, through a number of incisive runs by the 2 Newport youngsters in the W&B side: Ryan Hughes and Jake Wright. The home team manager, Steve Rayner, threw on 2 strong substitutes, Joe Craig and Charlie Urry, but neither were able to extend the W&B lead, despite a few good chances coming their way.
Brading Town could and should have taken advantage of the poor discipline of the Whitecroft & Barton side late in the second half. First, W&B goalkeeper Gareth True was sinbinned for colourful language. Then, substitute Charlie Urry was sinbinned for some less than complementary remarks directed at referee, Ali Taylor.
Martin McDonough put on the goalkeeper’s jersey and ably substituted for True between the sticks, but Brading Town were still unable to make headway against a determined Whitecroft & Barton side even when reduced to 9 men.
FT: Whitecroft & Barton Sports 3-0 Brading Town
After the game, Whitecroft & Barton manager, Steve Rayner, showed his no nonsense approach to the game by saying:
“We got the 3 points. That was all that was needed.”
Brading manager, Steve Lawton, was generous in defeat. He said:
“The better side won on the day. I have no complaints.”
In the other game affecting the top of the table, 2nd-placed Shanklin beat a strong Cowes Sports Reserves side 3-2 at Westwood Park.
The goals for Shanklin came courtesy of a brace from Ji Nash and Peter Wilson. Gareth Bricknell and Scott McFarlane were on target for the Yachtsmen.
Whitecroft & Barton currently lead Island League Division 1 with 36 points from 14 games. Shanklin lie in 2nd place with 34 points and Brading are now a distant third on 28 points.
In Island League Division 2, leaders Oakfield maintained their 100% record with a 2-1 away win at Wootton, their goals coming from S Pearce and R Gee.
2nd placed Niton also won 2-1 away against a much-improved Yarmouth & Calbourne side.
In the Hampshire Invitational Cup, East Cowes Vics lost 0-7 to Wessex Premiership side, Blackfield & Langley. The game at Beatrice Avenue was played behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions.
Results for Saturday 17th April
Hampshire Invitational Cup: East Cowes Vics 0-7 Blackfield & Langley
Island League 1: Carisbrooke United 3-3 Ventnor; Cowes Sports Reserves 2-3 Shanklin; ECS 2-8 West Wight; Northwood St Johns 2-2 Ryde Saints; Sandown 0-1 Bembridge; Vectis 4-0 Binstead & COB; W&B 3-0 Brading Town
Division 2: Wootton 1-2 Oakfield; Osborne Coburg 1-7 Pan Sports; Seaview 3-2 Adgestone; Wroxall 1-4 Newchurch; Yarmouth & Calbourne 1-2 Niton
Fixtures for Tuesday 20th April:
Island League Division 1: Binstead & COB v Ventnor; Brading Town v Northwood St Johns; Cowes Sports Reserves v Bembridge; East Cowes Sports v Sandown; Shanklin v Ryde Saints; West Wight v Carisbrooke United; Whitecroft & Barton Sports v Vectis
Division 2: AFC Wootton v Pan Sports; Adgestone v Yarmouth & Calbourne; Newchurch v Newport ’A’; Oakfield v Osborne Coburg; Seaview v Wroxall; No Fixture: Niton Community
Island Echo will provide full coverage of Island League football for the remainder of the 2020/21 season.