The winning IW team celebrate, back, from left, Tom Gould, Neil Harris, Colin Simmonds, Stephen Woodford, Stuart Allen, Lewis Heaven-Gandy, Craig Bruce, Simon Butler and Richard Reynolds. Front, James Liddiard, Ollie Jordan, Rob Forrest and Sam Brown. Coach Alison Austin is not pictured.
HOCKEY Fordingbridge 2, IW 3
IW COMPLETED the league and cup double on Monday, defeating Fordingbridge in a thrilling Hampshire Cup final.
The Islanders were the favourites, having reached the final in the previous two years, but Fordingbridge showed they were no pushovers and started brightly, forcing keeper Sam Brown into an early save.
But IW began to get a foothold in the match, with good chances for Colin Simmonds and Stephen Woodford, before making the first break, when Simon Butler’s pass into the area was deflected by Richard Reynolds and into the path of Woodford, who swept home.
In the second half, IW employed a change of tactics at aimed at containing the opposition but it backfired when they equalised just 30 seconds from the restart.
Things went from bad to worse when Reynolds was given sent to the sin bin for a stick tackle, before Fordingbridge took the lead.
But IW fortunes began to turn around when Fordingbridge, too, had a player sin-binned and within minutes, Simmonds forced a penalty flick, which Woodford converted to level the scores.
As time ticked on, both sides looked for a winner, with Fordingbridge’s goalkeeper making fine saves to deny Rod Forrest, James Liddiard and Craig Bruce, while excellent tackles from Lewis Heaven-Gandy and Stuart Allen prevented shots for Fordingbridge.
However, with ten minutes to go, a piece of magic from Bruce won the game for IW.
Having picked up the ball from outside the area, he evaded a tackle and was close to the by-line. With the defence expecting a cross, Bruce instead shot at goal and the keeper was stunned to see the ball fly into the net from an impossible angle to make it 3-2.
With time running out, Fordingbridge launched a series of attacks but were kept at bay by the IW defence and they held on for victory.
The win completes a remarkable season for the team, who lost only one of their 26 league and cup games.
l This weekend, the club hosts its annual hockey festival at Smallbrook Stadium.
Teams from across the country will visit for two days of hockey-filled fun, with the focus very much on having a good time rather than the games themselves.
It is also a good opportunity for people thinking of joining the club or learning, to find out more. Play starts tomorrow (Saturday) at 10am.