IN their last match before Christmas, Winchester returned to winning ways and for the second successive away game managed to score four goals.

It was their third win at Mangotsfield's ground in a row, and Mangotsfield went into this match second from bottom in the table, but having achieved an excellent draw against Cirencester the previous week.

They also appear to have a good youth policy with their youth team knocking Eastleigh out of the FA Youth Cup before losing narrowly to Plymouth Argyle in the next round.

Some of the younger Eastleigh players featured in their Hampshire Senior Cup win against Havant and Waterlooville so this victory by the Mangotsfield youth team was a very good achievement.

Winchester were without Ollie Griggs, Kieran Douglas, Max Smith, Craig Feeney and Simba Mlambo through either suspension, Covid or general unavailability and had to make three changes to the starting line-up from the previous Saturday with Danny King, Liam Callaghan and Oli Bailey coming in. All three had been a substitute the previous week and for Bailey and Callaghan who had been on the substitutes bench several times in recent weeks a place in the starting eleven was a welcome Christmas present.

The Winchester bench contained youngsters Henry Brooks, Owen Lumsden and Robert Elms amongst their substitutes which also included the returning Joe Hayward. Both Brooks and Elms had represented Winchester in the FA Youth Cup match at Swindon Town with Elms scoring the team's consolation goal.

Early on an an effort from the home team's Daniel McBeam from just outside the area was just off target, while soon afterwards an effort from Winchester's Warren Bentley was just wide. However Mangotsfield took the lead after quarter of an hour a low effort from Wayne Ndermani went in off the post. Having drawn first blood in all of their last five league games it was certainly a test of Winchester's character as to how they would respond to this setback and as it turns out they did so very well.

Two minutes after going behind Winchester captain Jamie Barron forced a save from the home goalkeeper, while at the other end Kyle Simpson who went into this match having scored five goals in his last five games for the club including a hat-trick against Evesham shot over from just outside the penalty area for the home team.

Winchester however drew level in the 35th minute when Ollie Balmer added another to his growing number of assists when he set up put Oli Bailey through to score. Just before the interval Warren Bentley scores from close range to get on the scoresheet for the second successive game and more importantly his strike allowed his team to start the second half with a one goal advantage.

Early in the second half a cross from the lively Liam Callaghan saw Warren Bentley force a good save from Marko Radovanovic. Winchester were now on top and a free kick from Ollie Balmer and Pip Nolan had an effort blocked.

In order to remedy things Mangotsfield make a double substitution, but in the 69th minute Winchester are forced to make a substitution when Liam Callaghan who had looked impressive on the right flank was injured and had to be replaced by Henry Brooks.

Brooks though made an immediate impact when two minutes after coming on he set up Oli Bailey for the striker's second and Winchester's third with Bailey scoring with a shot into the bottom corner of the goal.

Five minutes later Brooks's first team debut gets even better when Ollie Balmer set him up to score Winchester's fourth. After this Winchester bring both Elms and Lumsden meaning that they finish the match with three debutants. Before the end Simpson and McBeam gave efforts for Mangotsfield which were just off target, with McBeam shooting over from close range, although the same player did have the consolation of converting a penalty in added on time, but by then the game was won and lost.

Joe Hayward has been a very loyal servant of Winchester City and he was the only one of Winchester's four substitutes to not get on the field, but the circumstances of the game meant that it was a good opportunity for the youngsters. Hayward's commitment to Winchester's cause has been demonstrated on many occasions, not least when just over five years ago he suffered a broken leg on Mangotsfield's ground which resulted in the abandonment of the match.

A happy Christmas and New Year to all our readers. Winchester's next game is on December 27 when Sholing are the visitors to Winchester's ground.