Winchester’s lean run, which had yielded only one win amid eight South Premier League Division 1 defeats, ended with a 1-0 victory over Indian Gymkhana – top scorer Micah Smithard getting the only goal of the match.
Opening salvoes on both sides created half chances but nothing that troubled either keeper.
Winchester's attacking threat was driven by the hard-running Todd Hutchinson, the effervescent skipper Kieran Malloy and the muscle of Ben Hibberd as they prevented Indian Gym's midfield from fully settling and dictating play in their usual fashion. Winchester then struck on 25 minutes when top scorer Micah Smithard collected the ball on top of the "D" from a left wing cross, beat a player and then calmly lifted the ball over the floored keeper.
The remainder of the half saw a couple of excellent chances for Winchester with Kent Langridge driving into the "D" to win a penalty corner and Malloy close after an umpiring advantage allowed play to continue.
Winchester became even stronger in the second half, the confidence that they had lacked in late 2018 returning by visible degrees.
In one move, Hutchinson and Craig Jeffery combined in a rapid counter attack but were just wide of the mark.
However, with a one goal lead, the risk of a Gymkhana comeback was always a possibility and 20 minutes-in, keeper Dave Smith made an outstanding save from a powerful high drive and was able to instantly clear to safety as the Indian Gym attackers bore down on him.
Smithard had a clear opportunity to extend the lead and take the pressure off but his shot sailed over the bar. Smith was again forced into action late in the game, but dealt comfortably with the danger.
The win sees no change to Winchester's league position, but a gap is clearly opening up between themselves and the two relegation places below them and coach George Harris’s attention can now return to moving up this tight league.
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