With their influx of new players, primarily from Fareham, Winchester are among the strongly fancied to press strongly for promotion in South Premier League Division 2 this season.
But their final dress rehearsal prior to Saturday’s opener at West Hampstead didn’t go to plan as visiting Wimborne Wayfarers beat them 2-1 at Kings’.
Winchester have former Great Britain Olympian Rob Moore, central defender Craig Sims and striker Ben Hibberd in a player/coach role.
But it was former England Under-16 goalkeeper Caelen Dillon – who has replaced Nottingham University bound Rory McCallum between the posts – who was quickly pressed into action with several fine saves.
Winchester had their moments with Kieran Malloy, Kent Langridge and Hibberd all going close, but Wimborne, ever dangerous, went ahead through the first of two Todd Clark strikes.
Clark, top goal-scorer in Regional 1 hockey last term, doubled Wimborne’s lead before Hibberd fired Winchester’s solo reply with a penalty stroke.
Winchester forced a spate of late short corners, but were unable to level the scores.
Neighbours Trojans begin their South Premier League 2 programme against newly promoted Bournemouth at Stoneham Lane, 1.30.
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