The 2 top sides in the 2nd tier of Isle of Wight football met at Slade Road on Saturday in what was to be the championship decider. However, neither leaders Oakfield nor 2nd-placed Niton were able to break the deadlock in a closely fought and competitive game that ended in a goalless draw.
The 2 sides locked swords back in April in a game controversially abandoned in the 25th minute due to what appeared to have been a serious injury to an Oakfield player after the home side had raced to a 3-0 lead in a game, as previously reported by Island Echo.
Niton had the better of the first half and nearly scored as early as the 7th minute when centre-forward Liam Blythe found himself in a 1-on-1 scoring opportunity against Oakfield keeper, Connor Woolridge, who saved what appeared to be a certain goal.
Niton then had 2 strong penalty appeals turned down by referee, Chris Cass. First, one of their players was upended in the penalty area in the 27th minute. 2 minutes later, an Oakfield player appeared to handle the ball in the in the penalty area in an incident recorded on camera by a Niton supporter.
The second half was an even contest with few chances for either side. The most noteworthy action after the interval was an amazing one-handed reaction save by Niton keeper, Tom Brownrigg, to a header by Ben McCloughlin, which prevented Oakfield from taking a 62nd minute lead.
Oakfield should also have been awarded a penalty when one of their forwards was blatantly impeded in front of the Niton goal.
FT: Oakfield 0-0 Niton
After the game, Niton manager, Darren Plenty, said:
“We have done well with the 2nd youngest side in our league. We have had to win 11 games in succession to stay in touch with leaders, Oakfield.”
Oakfield manager, Gary Gee, said:
“I thought the referee was poor. The game was stop and start. He blew up for everything.
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“We didn’t create many chances. It was an even game in which both sides cancelled each other out.”
The draw leaves Oakfield at the top of the table with 52 points from 19 games, 3 points ahead of Niton who have 49 points from 18 games. Niton are now certain of 2nd-place in Division 2 and have achieved promotion to Division 1.
Oakfield will play Newport ‘A’ at home in their final game on Tuesday, May 18. Niton play Newport ‘A’ on Saturday, May 22, before their final game at Seaview on Tuesday, May 25.
If both sides achieve maximum points in their final games, Oakfield and Niton will have 55 points each, and goal difference will decide the destination of the Division 2 title. Oakfield currently have a goal difference of +70, whereas Niton have a goal difference of +15.
In Division 1, leaders Whitecroft & Barton Sports continued their relentless march to a further consecutive league title after beating Bembridge 3-0 at Sandy Lane. The W&B scorers were Joe Craig and Michael McEnery (2).
2nd-placed Shanklin beat Oakfield 2-1 at the County Ground with a brace from Jason Smythers.
W&B currently lead Division 1 with 57 points from 21 games, 8 points ahead of Shanklin, who have 49 points from their 19 games.
Results for Saturday 15th May:
Harwoods Renault League Division 1: Brading Town H-W East Cowes Sports; Carisbrooke United 3-6 Cowes Sports Reserves; Shanklin 2-1 Binstead & COB; Vectis 5-1 Sandown; West Wight 2-2 Northwood St Johns; Whitecroft & Barton Sports 3-0 Bembridge
Harwoods Renault League Division 2: Newport ‘A’ 1-2 Adgestone; Oakfield 0-0 Niton Community; Seaview 0-1 Yarmouth & Calbourne
Fixtures for Tuesday, 18th May:
Harwoods Renault League Division 1: Carisbrooke United v Brading Town; East Cowes Sports v Whitecroft & Barton; Northwood St Johns v Binstead & COB; Ryde Saints v Bembridge; Shanklin v Cowes Sports
Harwoods Renault League Division 2: Adgestone v Wroxall; Newchurch v Yarmouth & Calbourne; Oakfield v Newport ‘A’; Seaview v Osborne Coburg
Fixtures and Results courtesy of Isle of Wight Divisional FA
Coverage of Island Combination fixtures and results will appear on Island Echo after the Combination midweek games on Wednesday 19th May.