WINCHESTER City have won the race to sign Alresford Town’s sought-after marksman Warren Bentley.

The 24-year-old, who topped the Sydenhams Premier scoring charts with 51 goals last term, was high on the wanted list of Southern Premier promotion seekers Poole Town.

But Bentley, who has just secured his first full-time teaching post in Southampton, has opted to follow departed Alresford co-managers Tim Cole and Danny Robinson to the Denplan City Ground where he has been signed on contract.

It means he remains a Wessex player for another season but, with Southern League ground grading now in place at Winchester, he will be hoping to spearhead a rapid return to Division One South & West.

Delighted Winchester director of football Dave Malone said: “Warren, who played for City as a youngster, has been coveted by lots of other clubs, many of them playing at a higher league.

“However, the combination of a new career in teaching, plus the opportunity to help us move up the pyramid, has convinced him to join us. He’s a sensible, level-headed, intelligent lad and he’s taken time to make the right decision. This is a fresh challenge for him and I think it will do him good.

“Warren scored over 50 goals for Alresford last season (58 in all competitions) and will be hoping he can replicate that next term.

“If he does well, it could be that he’ll get looked at by pro clubs and we wouldn’t stand in his way if a bigger club came in for him.”

Bentley is the first player to have signed a contract since Malone, accompanied by ex-Eastleigh chairman Paul Murray, returned to the City helm last spring.

“Putting him on contract makes sense for both parties,” added Malone. “For us it stops the insecurity of somebody knocking on the door every week looking to take him away. And for Warren it means that if someone decent did come in for him, we’d be happy to let him go at the right price.

“With the other signings we have made, which will be announced soon, we look forward optimistically to the season ahead.”