A visit to the Isle of Wight to meet up with an old friend, meant a chance to see a first ever Wessex League Division 1 match, between Newport (IOW) and Ash United.
The Smallbrook Stadium is located on the fringes of Ryde in the North of the island. Newport (IOW) FC ground share, with the Ryde Saints, although they have plans to move to a new stadium, at Wightfibre Park, between Newport and Wootton Bridge, as early as 2023. Ash United play at home near Guildford, Surrey, so faced quite a journey today.
The Smallbrook Stadium is primarily a speedway stadium, and has a large grand stand and refreshment stands. The stadium music was all from 1950s and early 1960s provided by the DJ and stadium announcer.
The table showed that, coming into the fixture, Newport (IOW) sat in 4th place, eight points behind Folland Sports in the automatic promotion spot, but with three games in hand. Ash United sat in 15th place, some ten points clear of the relegation places.
Ash United had conceded 82 goals this season, in 32 games and Newport (IOW) had scored 96 in their 32. Today’s match appeared therefore, to promise to be high scoring. Newport (IOW)’s top scorers this season have been Jordan Browne, with 23 goals from 30 matches, Joe Craig who has plundered 21 goals in just 24 matches, Connor Kelly, with 19 goals from 34 games and Joe Butcher with 17 goals in 29 games. Ash United have just one goal scorer, Zac Aubrey-Simpson, with 14 goals from his 23 matches, reaching double figures, this season.
Straight from kick off Newport (IOW) went on the attack, and a well placed through ball in the second minute resulted in the opening goal for Newport, scored by Connor Kelly.
Ash United held out bravely until the 39th minute, when Josh Younie curved a free kick, from 20 yards, with a “Beckham-esque” finish, to make it 2-0.
At half time the teams went in, with the home side two up and looking a good bet for the three points. The crowd of 101 had been well entertained.
In the 59th minute Newport’s top scorer, Jordan Browne, headed the ball home clinically to make the score 3-0.
The remainder of the half saw Newport (IOW), push hard to further extend their lead. The rain and wind replaced the sun, to leave fans and players cold. At the final whistle, it was Newport who took the points, to further cement their late push for promotion.