Former Gosport Borough striker Warren Bentley helps Winchester City win promotion to third tier of non-league football

There was double success for Hampshire non-league clubs in play-off finals today.

By Simon Carter
Monday, 2nd May 2022, 5:56 pm

Former Gosport Borough striker Warren Bentley was among the scorers as Winchester City defeated Bristol Manor Farm 4-1 in the Southern League Division 1 South final.

And Farnborough came from behind to score a late winner to give them a 2-1 success at Hayes & Yeading in the Southern League Premier South showpiece game.

Victory over Manor Farm means Winchester have been promoted to step 3 for the first time in their history, and will face Gosport in the Premier South in 2022/23.

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Warren Bentley (yellow, right) in action for Gosport Borough in 2016.

Winchester were playing in the Hampshire League as recently as 2002/03, progressing to win the Wessex League title in 2003/04, 2005/06 and 2011/12. They were promoted to step 4 after finishing Wessex runners-up in 2014/15.

Bentley is currently in his second spell at Winchester, having scored over 100 goals in two seasons for the club in his first.

He struck 56 league and cup goals in 2014/15, and was the Southern League Division 1 South & West’s top scorer with 44 goals the following season.

Bentley had made his name at Alresford, scoring 84 league and cup goals for Wessex League club Alresford between 2012-2014.

After leaving Winchester in 2016, he signed for Gosport, then in the National League South. He was Boro’s top scorer with 14 goals when financial trouble struck the club in January 2017, joining a player exodus by moving to Hungerford Town.

Winchester are the second club to win promotion from Division 1 South, behind Plymouth Parkway who won the title in their first season at step 4 level after being promoted from the Western League last summer.

Farnborough fell behind at Hayes & Yeading in the first half - Moses Emmanuel netting his 41st goal of the season - but striker Reggie Young levelled on the stroke of half-time.

Hayes were reduced to 10 men five minutes into the second half when Francis Amartey was dismissed.

Midfielder Sam Deering popped up with an 86th minute winner, which sees the north Hampshire club return to the National League South for the first time since 2015.

With the NLS rising from 21 to 24 clubs next season, there are six spaces to fill with two clubs going up (Maidstone and the play-off winner) and Billericay going down.

Dover and Weymouth have come down from the National League, with Taunton (Southern League) and Worthing (Isthmian) coming up as step 3 champions.

The list of six new clubs are completed with Farnborough and Cheshunt, who today won the Isthmian Premier play-off final 2-1 at Hornchurch.