SCORELINE aside, Winchester City’s 3-0 victory at Wantage Town yesterday didn’t overly impress manager Paul Masters.

The uneven bounce off a bumpy Alfredian Park pitch meant there was scant opportunity to play good football.

But one huge plus to come out of the afternoon was a sparkling debut from City's new signing Howard Newton from Ryman League outfit Chipstead.

Older brother of Winchester right-back Jake, the 33-year-old has masses of non-League experience behind him with the likes of Staines Town, Metropolitan Police and Tooting & Mitcham.

And that, according to Masters, was immediately evident as fourth-placed City kept themselves in the Southern One South & West play-off hunt at the expense of a lowly Wantage side who ended the game with nine men.

City were 2-0 up when the first Alfredians culprit got his marching orders for a professional foul.

Jamie Barron’s stunning finish from outside the box had opened the scoring on 14 minutes before new boy Newton headed a corner back across for Warren Bentley to double City’s advantage with his 52nd goal of the season.

Bentley should have had another from the penalty spot just before half-time, but he hit it straight at the keeper who palmed it over.

Wantage then lost another man for a two-footed tackle on Jake Newton and Barron polished off an excellent afternoon’s work with another cracker from distance with full-time approaching.

Praising Howard Newton’s impact on the side, Masters said: “He was bright. He’s got a nice touch, he makes good runs and can go past people. It was a decent debut in difficult conditions.

“It was a scrappy, horrible game played on a bobbly, dried-out pitch, but Howard was a real bright spark. We played him on the left and you could see he's played at a good level. He knew when to run with the ball and when to pass it.

“We’ve got Taunton coming to our place on Saturday and having someone of Howard’s experience will be helpful.”

Winchester needed all three points at Wantage on an afternoon when the South & West's top-five all won.

Taunton are three points behind City in fifth having played one game fewer. That game in hand is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) when the Peacocks entertain a Didcot Town side who blitzed rock-bottom Bashley 7-0 on Saturday.

Bash have now conceded a staggering 162 goals this season and have a goal difference of -152.