Colin French struck two minutes from time to secure a 2-1 win for Trojans against Winchester in an error ridden Southern Premier League Division 1 derby that will probably remain short-lived in the memory.
From Winchester's perspective, the result was not entirely unexpected as the 15-man squad included a number of highly promising young players making their league debuts. Clearly, coach George Harris will need time bed them into this high level of hockey.
Runners-up to Guildford last season, Trojans started well, forcing Ally Birch into an early save at a penalty corner. Barely 60 seconds later they grabbed the lead as an excellent through ball found French on the back line. His pinpoint pass back to Richard Hill made it 1-0.
Neither keeper was involved for a while as the two teams took it in turns to pass to the opposition and to relinquish possession at the first available opportunity. This led to a frenetic display which only compounded the quality of hockey.
A ray of light appeared for Winchester midway through the half as Eton College debutant Luke Whittome swooped to strike a reverse-hit ball across the "D" from the left. Never known to score a straightforward goal, Adam Major deflected the ball past the keeper from the narrowest of angles to make it 1-1.
The remainder of the half remained scrappy with Birch being called into action three times and Winchester having to clear off their line on a separate occasion.
The second period continued much the same, but Trojans, spotting some hesitation in a newly-built Winchester defence, put huge pressure on Harry Trussler and James Pauley when in possession and with few options on the move in front of them, there were a number of heart-stopping moments.
The most dangerous was when French won the ball and found himself one-on-one with his keeper-friend Birch, but the goalkeeper underlined his experience by pushing him wide. The shot hit the side netting.
Winchester has their own moments with Ben Hibberd deflecting just over the bar and 14-year-old Olly Lander bursting in from the left and winning a penalty corner, which was successfully run down by the Trojans defence.
The city side looked to have accepted the point but Trojans, with two minutes left, once again stole the ball on half way, drove down the right channel to find French at the far post to crash the ball through a Winchester defender and then through the legs of the unsighted Birch.
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