Tony Howsam scored both the IW II goals. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
HOCKEYIW II 2, Portsmouth Sharks 1
IW II maintained their promotion push at Smallbrook on Saturday, but were tested all the way by a Sharks side who lived up to their name.
Pace and accurate passing from the opposition forced IW’s defence to work hard to keep them out with lots of sharp tackling.
But they could do nothing when a Sharks forward powered home an impressive drag flick soon into the match from a penalty corner.
It was a lead they were to hold on to for much of the game.
Graham Curtis stood out and marked a very tricky centre forward out of the game and slowly, the home side began to fight back and exert pressure of their own.
Young Charlie Connaughton was working tirelessly up front while Henry Cripps was getting into some dangerous positions.
The hero of the hour though was Tony Howsam, playing his first game back after a long-term injury, who kept driving at the heart of the Sharks defence and led the IW comeback.
Howsam scored two goals near the end of the game from sharp shots, both from penalty corners, to nudge the IW in front.
IW battled hard in the final minutes to keep the lead but they had a scare with just seconds to go, when Sharks thought they had equalised when a forward tapped home following a free hit into the area.
However, after consultation between the umpires the goal was disallowed, as the ball had not travelled five metres following the free hit. Though several Portsmouth players vented their anger towards the officials, the decision stood and the IW took the points to keep them second in Hampshire Division 10, and still on course for promotion.
IW II: Brown, Cripps, Howsam, Selby, Joyce, Connaughton, Bartlett, Dean, Pearson, Harris, Curtis, Dickinson.