Newport IW FC edged closer to the promotion places in Wessex League 1 by comfortably beating 6th placed Alton, to extend their unbeaten run to 10 games.
Newport made just one change to the side that beat Whitchurch United a fortnight ago, with Spike Pearce returning to take the place of Harrison Yates.
The game started competitively, with both sides requiring 3 points to stay in touch with the promotion contenders. The first serious attempt on goal from the home side came from Connor Kelly, who spotted the Brewer’s goalkeeper, Justin Courtnage, off his line and attempted an ambitious 30 yard lob that flew just over the crossbar. The Port then had a lucky escape in the 19th minute, when Alton forward, George Bowerman, dispatched a thunderous strike from the middle of the penalty area that cannoned off the right post.
The Brewers had the lion’s share of possession for most of the rest of the first half, forcing the home side to concede a long succession of corners, which they wasted through a bizarre display of wildly inaccurate corner kicking. Alton were controlling the game, but mistimed passing meant they lacked the necessary cutting edge in the final third of the field.
The Port provided their North Hampshire visitors with a much needed lesson in decisive finishing four minutes from half time. First, the ever-impressive Connor Kelly floated a long free kick into the Brewer’s penalty area, which was met by the head of Scott Sampson, who directed the ball to Jordan Browne, for him to head the ball against the right upright and see it trickle into the Alton net and give the home side a goal advantage going into half time.
HT Newport IW 1-0 Alton FC
Whereas the first half was a battle of attrition between 2 competitive sides, the incident packed second half was anything but dull.
The Brewers came close to equalising in the 49th minute, when their centre forward, Louis Russell, had a powerful low shot well saved by Gary Streeter in the Newport goal. The Port demonstrated their ability to deal decisively with chances that fell their way when, in the 51st minute, Justin Courtnage failed to hold a Connor Kelly corner, Jordan Browne controlled the loose ball, turned and blasted the ball into the back of the net from 8 yards. (2-0)
Connor Kelly then turned from provider to scorer, sending a shot that would grace an intergalactic cup final screaming into the far corner of the net from around 30 yards at a tight angle. (3-0)
The Brewers came close to getting a goal back in the 65th minute when Luke Perkins hit the woodwork.
Further drama ensued in the 69th minute, when Jared Cousins skilfully rounded the Alton keeper, only for Justin Courtnage to physically impede the Newport striker and force him to lose his balance. Referee, George Redford, had little option other than to red card keeper Courtnage and award a penalty to the Port. Alton manager, Kev Adair, sent himself onto the pitch as substitute keeper. However, the services of Adair were not required, as penalty taker, Connor Kelly, uncharacteristically hoofed the spot kick high over the crossbar.
Jordan Browne came close to scoring his hat trick a minute from time, but had his effort spectacularly saved by the multi-talented Alton manager-cum-keeper.
The game ended on a sour note, with Spike Pearce sent off, allegedly for violent conduct. The incident was missed by both the crowd and (apparently) the referee, but not by one of the eagle-eyed assistant referees.
FT: Newport IW 3-0 Alton FC
Newport IW: Streeter, Hughes, Pearce, Barron (McCabe 87), McDonough, Sampson, Kelly, Reynolds (Rayner 83), Cousins, Browne, Craig (Yates 84)
After the game, Newport manager, Andy Sampson, said:
“We thoroughly deserved our win, We got off to a slow start, but after we scored our first goal we were comfortable. The only bad point of the game was the sending off of Spike Pearce, who will now be out for 3 games.”
Speaking of Newport’s promotion chances, Sampson said:
“There is still a long way left to go with a lot of games still to play. However, results went our way today with promotion rivals Bemerton and Downton both dropping points”.
Newport’s win leaves them in 7th place in Wessex League 1. The Port are now 5 points behind Bemerton Heath Harlequins in the 4th promotion spot, with 1 game in hand. Newport have now collected 26 points out of a possible 30 over their last 10 games.
Newport travel to Salisbury in Wiltshire on Saturday 14th March to face midtable Laverstock & Ford.
Vics had Saturday’s game against Hythe & Dibden postponed. Vics travel to Laverstock & Ford on Tuesday night and play host to Ringwood Town on Saturday 14th March.
In the Wessex Premier, Cowes Sports lost yet again, this time 2-0 to North Hampshire side, Tadley Calleva. The Yachtsmen have now extended their winless run to 24 games. The Yachtsmen last won on September 28th, 2019, However, with only 1 team likely to be relegated from the Wessex Premier League, Cowes may yet avoid the drop to Division 1.
The next fixture for Cowes Sports will be home to Fleet Town at Westwood Park on Saturday.