The View from the Bar

For crying out loud, this is about the sixth time I’ve started writing these notes. I’m finding it hard to strike the right balance between a respectful reflection on the events of Wednesday night, and the deep-ingrained urge to just right a page full of hahahahahahaha and not much else.
It is, after all, a rare treat to get one over on Newport. By my reckoning, this was the 32nd tie we’ve played them since I’ve been following Cowes, and it was just the eighth time we’ve come out on top in that time. So yeah, the wins are special when they come, and this was no different.
I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it (as you may well have been able to tell from my notes in the programme), and the omens weren’t promising early on, with Newport looking strong, well organised, and taking an early lead, not that they had a whole lot to do with it. You couldn’t help but feel for Dom, such was the nature of the goal – it takes something special to beat Ed from that kind of distance, and angle, but Dom somehow produced the perfect strike to pick out the top corner. Here we go, we all thought.
It was a good job we pulled level as quickly as we did, as I think if Newport had had a chance to consolidate their lead they’d have shut up shop, but as it was we got straight back at them and Jez pulled out an absolutely blinding bit of control and assured finish to send the bulk of the crowd into raptures. Still not sure quite how the County Press thought it was a header, but hey, I’m not complaining.
Although we had a couple of golden chances going into the break, I’d say most of us were still pretty relieved to be going in level at half-time. Things were mighty different in the second half though, as we battered an increasingly-beleaguered Newport. It was great, wasn’t it? After Ash Brett put us ahead with a tidy finish the nerves began to jangle again when Dukey was shown a second yellow, but numbers were levelled up pretty quickly and then the visitors were reduced to nine men as they became increasingly frustrated. I have to say, I think the ref had a pretty good game, all in all. It was good to have a mainland ref for one of our clashes, and he made it clear early on that anything rash was going to get a yellow card. Players on either side didn’t take the hint, and so the cautions kept on coming.
The nerves weren’t going away though. How many times have we dominated against Newport only for them to nick a late leveller or winner? But then came Jimmy’s wonder-strike. And it was a wonder strike, wasn’t it? I think a fair few in the crowd were wondering if he’d meant to cross it, and Gary Streeter was left wondering how on earth he managed to get that much swerve onto the ball. It was a wonder-ful moment though, as the ball fairly whistled into the open side of the goal with the ex-Cowes keeper – so often the bane of our encounters since he joined Newport – firmly rooted to the spot at his far post.
It wouldn’t have been a proper derby without a bit more tension towards the end, and Newport scored a cracker of their own to set up a nervy last few minutes, but the final whistle thankfully arrived and with it a famous victory. Oh boy did I like that! Whatever happens from herein, it’s been a good season already!
And we have a home draw in the next round, again against Division 1 opposition (we’ll find out this week if it will be Totton & Eling or Andover New Street). It’s strange. We seem to be a cup team, all of a sudden (although it may have something to do with us getting as many home draws already this year as we have in the past three seasons put together…)
But before we get too excited about the cups, there’s the no small matter of the league to think about, and what could prove to be a pivotal clash today against Shaftesbury, who themselves will be looking for a lift away from the lower reaches of the League table.
And let’s not forget, next week we get to welcome the talismanic John McKie back to Westwood when he visits with Hamble Club. I know full well he’ll get a fond reception, right up to the point where the game kicks off. I said to him a few weeks back that he’d doubtless be on the end of a fair bit of pantomime stick at the game, and he grinned back that he wouldn’t have it any other way. I fully expect he had a little smile to himself on Wednesday too, like we all did.
Enjoy the game.
Toby.

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