Olly Balmer scored twice as Winchester City edged out Bristol Manor Farm in a dramatic encounter by 3-2 at the Simplyhealth City Ground on Tuesday night in Southern League Division One South, writes Matt Richbell.

City made several changes from their FA Trophy exit on Saturday with Dan Bradshaw and Danny King back in the side; seeing Ollie Griggs and Dan Williamson drop to the substitutes bench.

City started the game well and within two minutes, Olly Balmer raced clear of the Bristol Manor Farm defence and finish well past Luc Rees in the visitors’ goal. Manor Farm responded well to falling behind by forcing Ryan Pryce into a decent save down to his right. Both sides battled out an evenly contested first-half, only for Max Smith to hobble on injured after 30 minutes. Max was replaced by Ollie Griggs. Just four minutes after Smith’s injury, Bristol Manor Farm were awarded a penalty. Skipper, Jay Adams, netted the penalty on 34 minutes, sending Ryan Pryce the wrong way. City responded well to Manor Farm’s equaliser and Rob Flooks saw his goal bound header cleared off the line. Josh McCormick also came close to restoring City’s lead, when his free-kick was deflected over the crossbar.

After the restart, McCormick this time did find the target. Olly Balmer beat his man before supplying McCormick, who in turn beat his man and finished well with a low effort from the corner of the box. Ryan Pryce was called into action once again, saving well. But Pryce was beaten for a second time on 64 minutes, when despite making an initial save, Manor Farm’s centre forward tapped home at the second attempt. Tyrell Mitford came close to restoring City’s lead six minutes later, but his looping header went just wide.

Graeme Purdy was introduced on to the field on 78 minutes and within sixty seconds of Purdy’s introduction, Olly Balmer went on a mazy run, beating two visiting defenders, before finishing past Rees and into the back of the net. City were defending resolutely towards the end of the game without ever really being put any significant pressure and Balmer almost netted his hat-trick, when his injury time shot was saved.