JAMES Taylor will not rely on Sholing to keep free-falling Winchester City out of the Evo-Stik Southern One South & West drop zone.

Although the Boatmen still occupy the sole relegation spot with just three wins to their credit all season, Taylor cannot see them staying there.

Sholing showed their true potential by soundly beating Taylor’s Winchester 4-1 at the Silverlake Arena on Tuesday with big guns Jamie Musselwhite, Marvin McLean and Lee Wort (2) on the scoresheet.

For City it was their 11th loss from the last dozen league games dropping them to third to bottom spot, six points clear of Sholing but having played seven games more.

And, while Taylor will do all he can to prevent his inexperienced, young side slipping to the foot of the table, he does not expect the Boatmen to cushion their fall.

“To be honest, I don’t know how Sholing are down where they are with the ability and experience they’ve got,” admitted the former Bashley, Havant and Basingstoke striker, who coaches the Boatmen’s under-12 Whites side on Sundays.

“It’s poor form from them that they’re bottom of the league, but I’m sure they’ll get out of it and finish nearer the play-offs than the relegation zone.”

On the face of it, rookie manager Taylor has an infinitely tougher task on his hands than Sholing’s Dave Diaper.

While the Boatmen are laden with Southern League experience, having reached the play-offs for the last three seasons, Winchester are in their first season up from the Sydenhams ranks and trying to survive with a team top heavy with teenagers.

Following costly early exits from the FA Cup and Trophy, owner Paul McCarthy ditched most of the senior players who romped away with the Wessex Premier crown last term. It leaves Taylor trying to coax the best out of a raw, young side who offer bucket loads of enthusiasm but are woefully short on experience.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult with all the youngsters we’ve got,” he admitted.

“It’s a question now of whether they can learn enough and get us to the standard where we can start winning games.

“We’re going to have to win five, maybe more, to stay up, but it doesn’t help that there is not one poor team in the league this season that you could bank on going down.

“The league’s much more even than usual. There’s not one outstanding team or one really poor team this year.”

Winchester have a fighting chance of arresting the slide tomorrow at home to mid-table Clevedon Town, who are without a win in their last four league outings.

City hope to have experienced former QK Southampton striker Ben Penfold back available after he picked up a chest infection on his return from a Christmas ski-ing trip.

Influential skipper Jack Smith should also be back from a festive break, but ex-Eastleigh frontman Andrew White has gone AWOL and senior goalkeepers Rory Anderson (bad back/chicken pox) and Jon Webb (ankle) almost certainly remain sidelined, leaving Downton signing Tom Robinson in the firing line.