Two crisply executed penalty corner conversions by recent signing Micah Smithard, pictured, were the highspot of a five-goal second half show by Winchester, who beat South Premier Division 1 rivals Horsham 5-1 at Kings.
The win lifted newly promoted Winchester to fourth spot ahead of Saturday’s visit to Oxford University, with whom Ben Hibberd’s squad fought a titanic promotion battle last term.
Winchester called the tune throughout the goal-less first half against Horsham, only to be thwarted by goalkeeper Andy Isaacs, who pulled off a series of superb saves.
Ironically, the nearest Winchester came to scoring was through centre-back Kevin Boniface – not exactly a hockey playing Sergio Aguero – who saw his goal-bound shot cleared off the line by a Horsham defender.
“I told the lads at half-time that patience was the order of the day and we needed to be a tad more clinical. The boys didn’t disappoint,” Hibberd smiled.
Within two minutes of the restart, Winchester were ahead through skipper Kieran Molloy, who picked up a great pass from Will Phillips and drilled the ball through Isaacs’ legs.
A rasping strike by Sam Gill soon put Horsham level, but the equalizing goal sparked Winchester into action and two sweetly converted short corners by Smithard soon made it 3-1.
With Calean Dillon, their own goalkeeper, having a fine game, Winchester looked secure at the back and with the game now stretched, the city side began putting some fine midfield moves together, a neat exchange between Mark Maunsell and Molloy putting up Kent Langridge to make it 4-1.
A superb Bauful-like run by Harry Talks ended with the former Peter Symonds man cracking a shot against the inside of the Horsham upright.
But Winchester weren’t to be denied a fifth as Molloy wiggled his way down the left baseline and squared it back for Phillips to tap in.
Former Southampton hotshot and Toton & Eling cricketer Oli Knight bagged a hat-trick as Old Edwardians won 6-2 at Henley.
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