TOMMY Woodward scored an ‘absolutely outstanding’ goal against his former club as Fleetlands won the battle of the Hampshire Premier League heavyweights.
Woodward put the ambitious Gosport-based club on the road to a 2-1 Hampshire Trophy first round win over Paulsgrove with a stunning set-piece.
He struck from the edge of the penalty area to leave boss Rich Bessey purring: ‘That was the best free-kick I have ever seen.
‘You could have had three goalkeepers in there and none of them would have saved it.
‘It was an absolutely outstanding strike - right in the top corner, hitting the stanchion.’
Fleetlands added a second before half-time through makeshift striker Jake Pepall.
Only playing up front as Bessey had no other recognised forwards to call on, Pepall - appearing in only his second game of the season - latched onto a Lee Bedden pass to double the advantage.
Paulsgrove hit back in the second half through Billy Butcher, and would have levelled had ex-Fleetlands player Jimmy Hird not seen a penalty saved by Josh Whitehead.
‘It was a scrappy game,’ reported Bessey. ‘We had the first us and Paulsgrove were all over us in the second half. We were probably fortunate to win in the end.
‘Paulsgrove are a hard team to play - they were always in our face, they didn’t give us time to play.’
Forced to make changes due to first teamers being ineligible for the competition, Bessey brought in reserves Craig Haddesley and Connor Johnson.
Fleetlands’ second string have won all their Wyvern Combination games this season, while the first team could go top of the HPL top flight next weekend.
If Fleetlands win at Hayling on Tuesday and again at home to rock bottom Winchester Castle next Saturday - and top two Bush Hill and Infinity draw against each other the same day - Bessey’s men will take over top spot on goal difference.
‘As a club we’re going in the right direction,’ said Bessey. ‘The chairman (former Gosport Borough chairman Iain Sellstrom) is ambitious and so am I.
‘We want to get out of our division as quickly as we can. We believe we should be a Wessex League club, but for that to happen this season we’ve got to finish in the top four.’
Fleetlands will need to make some ground improvements if they are to return to the Wessex which they last graced in 2006/07.
Back then, Fleetlands won the third tier of the Wessex - but then due to league restructuring took their place in the Hampshire League the following season.
The club will need to install floodlights at their Lederle Lane HQ in order to satisfy Wessex grading standards - though they can do that once they have been accepted into the league.
They will also need to improve the size of their changing rooms.
Bessey, meanwhile, was keen to highlight kitman Paul Allen’s role.
‘Every week, whatever the weather, Paul is the first there to get everything ready for us,’ he said. ‘He’s got great passion for the club and his smiling face yesterday at the final whistle was great to see.’