Romsey Town were very close to ruining Cowes Sports’ promotion party as they narrowly lost their last game of the season 3-1, despite being the better side for large spells, on a bright sunny afternoon in front of a bumper crowd on the island.

Missing no fewer than 6 regular starters to his starting line up, Town boss Andy Samuels, was forced to call upon replacements from the club’s development squad to help fill in for the absentees.

“We were right down to the bare bones with us missing some key players, who’ve played a huge part in our mini-revival. But credit to the lads who I called up from the development squad, as they’ve continued to set the standards we’ve put in place,” said Samuels.

The changes didn’t bother Romsey as they took the game to Cowes right from the off, and a Josh Harvey long range effort, which just went past the post, ensured the home side weren’t in for an easy ride.

With the home crowd getting frustrated, Romsey continued to dominate and Ollie Bailey came close to opening the score, but saw his shot well blocked by a last ditch tackle from the home sides captain.

That chance began to rally Cowes, who knew a victory would secure their promotion to the Wessex Premier League next season, and they came close to breaking the deadlock, as their attacking midfielder saw a shot cannon off the Romsey crossbar and out to safety.

Despite all their domination, Romsey found themselves a goal down minutes before the break, when the big Cowes centre forward headed home unmarked at the back post.

The second half began pretty much the same as the first ended, with both sides enjoying large spells with the ball, but neither side could find a way through to test either keeper.

Then with twenty five minutes to go, Romsey midfielder Liam Cooke, rode a challenge on the edge of the Cowes penalty area and struck a half-volley towards the home side’s goal. With the Cowes keeper off his line the ball was on its way into the back of the net, when the referee blew his whistle, much to the amazement of everyone watching ,and pulled play back for a foul on the edge of the area.

Following the free kick from the resulting foul, Cowes broke free and added a second to help relax the nervous tension that was beginning to creep into their players and fans.

Despite the set back, Romsey continued to push forward and their persistence was rewarded when Bailey smashed home a loose ball inside the area to halve the score.

With Romsey pushing more players forward in the hope to score an equaliser, they were hit on the counter, as the Cowes centre-forward completed his hat-trick with only minutes left on the clock to seal their promotion.

After the game, Town boss Samuels was in a buoyant mood. “I honestly couldn’t ask for anymore from the lads that played today. With only a bare eleven, to push a promotion chasing side all the way, is testament to how my lads performed out there and what I’m looking to instil into the side. Seeing the celebrations at the end of the game, has given me extra motivation to bring that to Romsey.”

With Samuels and his assistant Dave Hazelgrove lifting the Hampshire-based club off the foot of the table since joining in February, Samuels is eager to start planning for next season.

“I’ll take stock of what we’ve done in the thirteen games I’ve been in charge, take a few weeks off and then begin to implement our plans for next season. After some great performances in a short time, I’m very confident that with a few more additions to the squad in the right areas, there’s no reason why we can’t mount a promotion challenge ourselves next season.”