Winchester halted an eight-match winless run and lifted themselves out of immediate harms way in the South Premier League danger zone with an emphatic 4-0 win over Indian Gymkhana at Kings’.
Ben Hibberd and Craig Jeffrey scored twice each as Winchester, boosted by three goals in the opening 15 minutes, celebrated their first win since beating Henley 6-3 on December 2 – a result they must repeat on Thames-side on Saturday.
The victory over Indian Gymkhana took Winchester to the 20-point mark – seven clear of Henley – so they should be safe if they can beat the Berkshire side on their own soil.
Winchester made the perfect start with a Ben Hibberd penalty stroke – awarded when a shot from Micah Smithard was illegally stopped on the line.
It was surprising Winchester kept that early lead intact.
Gymkhana, without a win themselves in five games and sliding into the danger zone, laid siege to the Winchester goal, with the telescopic outstretched legs of evergreen goalkeeper Ali Birch denying Jadeep Gill and Marcus Mahne.
Things threatened to boil over as the visitors’ attacks were thwarted, but the umpires kept green and yellow cards in their pockets throughout and calmly officiated the game.
Having repelled the Gymkhana pressure, Winchester stretched their lead with a Craig Jeffrey grace – a reverse stick shot followed by a rasping third goal into the roof of the net which climaxed a solo Jack Culmer run.
Gymkhana almost clawed a goal back on the stroke of half-time when a deflected shot flashed over Birch’s goal.
But all hopes of them rescuing the situation ended after the break when a fine break to the right byeline by Smithard teed up a simple tap in for Hibberd’s 14th goal of the season.
*Winchester Boys took the lead from an Isaac Hocking penalty stroke but were beaten 3-1 by Bournemouth in the England Under-18 Cup quarter-finals.
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