Stuart Tognarelli scored a second half hat-trick and then laid on the winner as Winchester hit back from 3-0 down to beat Hampshire/Surrey Regional League Division 2 visitors Salisbury 4-3 in a King’s School thriller.
The comeback enabled Winchester to keep their noses ahead of Trojans at the top of the table – the Stoneham club winning 2-1 at Sunbury & Walton Heath to remain second on goal difference.
Salisbury, meanwhile, were left far from impressed with the manner in which the game was played.
Skipper Tom Morton has penned his thoughts to the South League management.
“There was constant swearing on the pitch – which is totally unacceptable in hockey – and harassing of the umpires, who weren’t strong enough to take any action until late in the game when a couple of yellow cards were dished out,” he said.
“By then it was too late.
“Having said that, we were excellent in the first half, absolutely played them off the park and could have been more than 3-0 up.”
Dan Dines gave Salisbury the lead from a rebound off his own penalty corner strike, with Ollie Budnaik doubling the advantage from a tight angle.
Another short corner routine ended with Chris Warde pushing the ball round keeper Ally Birch.
It was the ninth goal Winchester had conceded in back-to-back games – but they emerged from a half-time dressing down from their coaching staff and emerged a different side in the second half, rattling Greg Rideout’s crossbar from one penalty corner.
With Robbie Craddock a major thorn down the left flank, Winchester tore into Salisbury, with Tognarelli scoring twice in quick succession to cut the visitors’ lead to 3-2.
It was a while before Tognarelli’s 15th league goal of the season – and his second consecutive hat-trick – levelled the scores.
Winchester’s winner came with ten minutes remaining and this time Tognarelli was provider, weaving his way in from the left and sending an excellent pass for Jon Saltmarsh to deflect towards goal.
Goalkeeper Rideout made a half-save – but Saltmarsh was quickest to react with the ball rolling slowly towards the goal line and bundled it over for Winchester’s winner.
For more hockey, don't miss today's Daily Echo.