Ollie Jordan scored his first goal in three years for the side. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
HOCKEYIW 6, Fordingbridge 3
IN A match much closer than the score suggests, the IW managed to maintain their unbeaten record with a win in this top-of-the-table clash.
The early exchanges showed the well-drilled Fordingbridge would pose a threat and they proved tough to break down, with the home defence kept busy.
The IW got the all important first goal when a surging run from right back Steve Johnston set up Stephen Woodford to slot home, and soon they made it 2-0, when Barry Lloyd was rewarded with his first goal for the first team, firing home a reverse stick shot from a rebound.
Fordingbridge were not without their chances, and shortly after Lloyd’s goal they should have pulled back, but their forward missed an open goal after rounding goalkeeper Sam Brown.
And they were made to pay when IW got a decisive third on the stroke of half time, when a short corner wasn’t cleared by Fordingbridge and in a melee of shots and blocks, Ollie Jordan swept home to score his first goal for three years.
The second half started with both teams attacking with relentless pace.
Keeper Brown produced a great sliding block, before Stuart Allen again led the defensive line with a number of perfectly timed tackles.
The first goal would be key, and it went to the IW, when Woodford swept home an excellently worked short corner routine.
It got better soon after, as Lloyd picked up his second with a shot that bounced off the keeper and in, before Rob Forrest continued his record of scoring in every match but pushing home a rebound.
However, having established a 6-1 lead, IW took their foot of the gas and sloppy mistakes allowed Fordingbridge back in.
The visitors were proving ever more dangerous on attacks and the home team’s defensive line was breached when a forward was put though and slotted home. It got worse almost immediately as a miscommunication led to a gap being left at the back which Fordingbridge exploited on a counter-attack, leaving a forward an open goal to tap into.
With Fordingbridge full of confidence, they almost snatched a fourth near the end, but Allen produced a stunning block on the line from a powerful shot.
Thankfully for the IW, the final whistle went soon after to keep their lead at the top of Hampshire 6 secure.
Captain Simon Butler said: "That was our toughest match of the season so far and full credit to Fordingbridge, they gave us a real test at times. But our guys were great and we came through and got the three points against a promotion rival."