Woodward at the double as Fleetlands end losing run with 4-0 Hampshire Premier League win at lowly Locks Heath
Boss Rich Bessey rang the changes and managed to end Fleetlands’ losing streak on a rainswept night at Locks Heath.
In the wake of a dismal 4-1 home loss to Hayling in the Hampshire Premier League last weekend, Bessey made six changes - including handing debuts to two new signings.
Though lowly Locks managed to hold their own outside the 18-yard boxes, they were undone by the visitors’ clinical finishing inside them as Fleetlands moved back into the top three with a 4-0 success.
It was a harsh lesson for Locks’ own debutants to learn against a side containing players good enough to hold their own in the Wessex League - which is where Bessey is aiming to be in 2020/21.
Locks boss Tom Best handed youth team keeper Ben Schneider his senior debut after regular No 1 Martin Gardiner suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 5-0 drubbing at Paulsgrove last weekend.
There was also a first appearance for Ronnie Clarke, 17, on the right side of Locks’ midfield.
For his part, Bessey handed debuts to right back Dillon North and midfielder Glynn Cooper - signed from Infinity and Horndean respectively - as Fleetlands ended a four-game losing run which had included exits from two cups.
The opening 45 minutes was very tight with Locks - aiming to move out of the bottom three - more than holding their own but falling down in the final third of the pitch.
Ex-Fleetlands forward Jake Alford saw an early shot tipped over by ex-Locks keeper Josh Whitehead before the visitors took a 27th minute lead.
As Fleetlands broke quickly after defending a corner, Jack North played in top scorer Matt Andrews who finished well past Schneider for his 22nd goal of the campaign.
Bessey introduced Perry Easton on the left side of midfield at half-time and, within minutes, the sub was moved to left back after Sean Dark went off injured.
Fleetlands doubled their lead on 54 minutes when Tommy Woodward flicked on a cross and the unmarked Jack North slammed home a shot from close range at the near post.
Locks were handed a glimmer of hope when North was sin-binned for dissent to ref James Colley shortly after.
Woodward blocked a shot from sub Ryan Bath with his legs, before Fleetlands - still down to 10 men - added a third when Woodward fired in an unstoppable shot from just outside the left-hand side of the six-yard box.
The final stages all belonged to Fleetlands, who could enjoy the luxury of bringing on ex-Pompey academy striker Joel Jackson to give a few glimpses of his undoubted ability.
But it was left to Woodward to complete the scoring in time added on. With Locks down to 10 men - Korey Roseby was off the pitch injured - the Fleetlands skipper was unmarked in the area where Roseby would have been to drill a low shot past the helpless Schneider.
The final scoreline was a tad harsh on Locks, who attempted to carry on playing football throughout the game rather than resorting to hopeful long balls.
At times, though, they played too much football and allowed Fleetlands’ experienced players too much time and space.
‘They have some good players and if you give good players chances they will punish you at this level,’ rued Best. ‘We more than held our own for 60 minutes or so, but Fleetlands were clinical.’
It was an honest - and totally accurate - summing up of the 90 minutes.