Winchester found themselves two goals down inside the opening five minutes against unbeaten South League Premier Division leaders Guildford – but found positives to take from the game despite the eventual 6-0 scoreline.
Jonny Haynes and hot shot Ross Ferguson got the Guildford ball rolling with those two early strikes, but Winchester didn’t appear phased by the quality of opposition and enjoyed a good share of possession in the visitors’ half, with Kieran Molloy (pictured below) setting the tone with a high energy performance, raising those around him to not allow Guildford to settle on the ball.
Much of the danger to the visitors came through Winchester's right flank with 15-year-old Joe Jenkinson emerging as a real prospect from right back.
After Winchester's first real goal attempt, well saved at the post by Ben Gaze, the Guildford keeper, the visitors went 3-0 up with yet another clever piece of skill under pressure, a well-directed reverse deflection to set Ferguson up.
Moments later, they thought they had gone 4-0 up, as a ball bounced off the post at a penalty corner and was scrambled home by a phalanx of alert Guildford players but was disallowed for an infringement.
They're fourth did come just before the break as a Guildford midfielder was quickest to the ball in the "D" as Winchester tried to clear their lines and Haynes passed the ball into the corner of the net for his second.
Things eventually improved for Winchester after the break, although not straight away with Guildford adding a fifth direct from a Sam Plater penalty corner and then a sixth from open play by Matt Fitter.
Thereafter Winchester then had two great opportunities to narrow the goal gap, firstly Ben Hibberd was thwarted at close range by a great save by Gaze and Todd Clark just failed to touch the ball-in.
Guildford had a further goal ruled out, but for the last 30 minutes of the game, Winchester gave a good, competitive account of themselves and played some of their best hockey of the season, with possession being maintained at a much-improved level. It also gave the significant under 18 element of the squad an excellent hockey experience, one in which they stepped up to the mark.
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