Newport’s drive for promotion misfired after only managing an unlucky draw against Ringwood Town, a side 7 places below them in the Wessex League One table.
The Port made 2 changes to the side that had won impressively at Fawley the previous Saturday, with the return of senior players Scott Sampson and Spike Pearce, who took the places of teenagers Scott Barron and Jake Wright.
The home side began the game kicking towards the GKN end on a soft pitch in blustery conditions. In what was a very open game, the Port began the game soaking up pressure from a Ringwood side that had come to the Island with attacking intent. The first clear chance for the home side came in the 15th minute, when Jordan Browne shot the ball high and wide after beating a defender. Newport had a very strong appeal for a penalty just before the half hour mark, when Connor Kelly appeared to have been brought down by Ringwood keeper, Nick Harvey, but the referee waved play on. A couple of minutes later, Connor Kelly was to force a great stop from Harvey after being put through by Joe Craig.
Disaster was to strike Newport in the 35th minute, when, seemingly out-of-the-blue, Ringwood captain, Ryan Osman, sent a sublime strike from just outside the penalty area past a static and
surprised Gary Streeter in the Newport goal to give the New Forest side a 0-1 advantage. A stunned Newport side then struggled to level the score. First, Ryan Hughes shot just wide in the 36th minute. 3 minutes later, Jordan Browne shot just wide after yet another fine Joe Craig cross. Then, just before half-time, Jacob Reynolds shot over the Ringwood Town crossbar.
However, the Port found themselves unable to breach a resolute Ringwood defence, and trailed the New Forest side 0-1 at the interval.
HT Newport IW 1-1 Ringwood Town
The second half began with an uncharacteristic mistake by veteran Newport keeper, Gary Streeter, when he slipped on the soft surface before having to recover to save a lob from the opposing side. Streeter just managed to prevent the ball from slipping over the goalline, although there were strong appeals from the Ringwood bench that the ball had crossed the line.
Newport continued to press forward, with Jacob Reynolds sending a shot high over the crossbar in the 59th minute and Joe Craig having his shot spilled by the Ringwood keeper in the 60th minute, with no Newport forward on hand to take advantage of the loose ball. In the 64th minute, Jordan Browne shot wide after a period of Port pressure in the Ringwood goalmouth. The equalising goal came in the 66th minute, with Jordan Browne showing some excellent ball skills in the penalty area, before volleying the ball into the net with his outstretched foot after a Connor Kelly free kick.
Newport then redoubled their efforts in search of the winning goal. In the 73rd minute, Joe Craig sent the ball across the Ringwood goal line, with no-one in a yellow shirt present to take advantage. In the 85th minute, a free kick from substitute Mark Taylor fell to Jacob Reynolds, who shot just wide. Finally, in the 86th minute, Joe Craig had a shot rebound from the far post that some in the crowd believed had crossed the line.
However, a resilient and well-drilled Ringwood defence weathered the storm to return across the Solent to the New Forest with a well-earned point.
FT Newport IW 1-1 Ringwood Town
Newport: Streeter, Hughes, H Yates (Taylor 65), Reynolds, McDonough, Sampson, Kelly, Pearce, Craig, Browne, L Wright (J Wright) Sub not used: F McCabe
The draw leaves Newport in 7th place in Wessex League 1, 7 points behind Andover New Street in a possible promotion spot in 4th place. On Saturday 8th February, Newport play away at last-placed Folland Sports. Kick-off is at the earlier time of 14:00.
In the other game in Wessex League One…
East Cowes Vics lost away to League leaders, United Services Portsmouth, by a single second half goal. Defeat leaves Vics in 17th position in the Wessex League 1 table. On Saturday 8th February, Vics face Andover New Street at Beatrice Avenue. Kick-off is at the earlier time of 13:30 due to new floodlights being installed.
In the Wessex Premier, second-from-bottom Cowes Sports ended a run of 9 successive defeats by drawing 3-3 at third-from-bottom Bournemouth Poppies. Ji Nash scored the first goal for Cowes in the 30th minute by sliding the ball through the Poppies keeper’s legs from close range. Ewan Cranwell got the second for Cowes from the penalty spot a minute from half time. Ash Brett was the 3rd scorer for the Yachtsmen, heading in a Fin Phillips cross in the 2nd minute of the second half.
Cowes came close to grabbing all the points when, with a few minutes left, a weak clearance from Jones fell to Jared Wetherick, who, instead of shooting, tried to play in his fellow striker and
the chance was gone.
Cowes face Baffins Milton Rovers at Westwood Park on Tuesday night (4th February). Kick-off is at 19:45. A full match report will appear on Island Echo.