AFTER a long 38-game slog to finish a brilliant second in Division 1 of the Wessex League, promotion was snatched from their grasp in the cruellest of ways — the lottery of a penalty shoot out — in the play-off semi-finals on Tuesday evening.

In a game in which they largely dominated against fifth placed bogey team Petersfield Town — who they had already lost twice to this season — in front of a big, supportive crowd at Smallbrook Stadium, Newport were beaten on the 18th penalty taken.

A spot kick miss by their goalkeeper, Leon Pitman, who has been outstanding all season, was inconsolable at the final whistle.

Newport are down, but the signs are the yellows are anything but out, according to their enthusiastic boss, Steve Brougham.

Isle of Wight County Press: Matt Oatley in action for Newport against New Milton this season.Matt Oatley in action for Newport against New Milton this season. (Image: Graham Brown)

"The dressing room was a bit down, but the lads knew they were the better side. They all rallied round Leon afterwards. He has been brilliant for us this season. No blame on him. I'm obviously gutted, but it was a lottery," said Steve.

With the Isle of Wight Gold Cup final against Cowes Sports to look forward to, in front of a bumper crowd, Newport could yet end their season on a high.

"To finish second in the Wessex League and win the Gold Cup would be a successful season," adds Steve.

"We won't be taking anything for granted in the final. It will be a tough game, but the lads are a confident group and won't need picking up for it."

Isle of Wight County Press: In-form Ji Nash in action against Amesbury Town last month.In-form Ji Nash in action against Amesbury Town last month. (Image: Graham Brown)

Steve, who has accrued a lot of managerial experience at Wessex League (and other similar leagues) level, remains positive and is already looking ahead to the future.

He also believes the very talented young squad he has developed will stick together and go one better next season, with the hope his side will be playing Wessex Premier football at their proposed new ground at Whippingham in the not-too-distant future.

"I'm really looking forward to next season already. There are a lot of positives to take from this season," continued Steve.

Isle of Wight County Press: Newport in action against Petersfield Town earlier this season.Newport in action against Petersfield Town earlier this season. (Image: Graham Brown)

"I take heart from knowing that champions, Andover New Street went through what we did last season, finishing second, but regrouped and earned top spot.

"That's what we will strive to do."

The Isle of Wight Senior (Gold) Cup final will take place at Beatrice Avenue, East Cowes, on Friday, May 5, kick-off 7.30pm. 

  • A play-off semi-final match report will appear on page 79 of today's (Friday) edition of the County Press.