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WHITCHURCH United kept alive their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Wessex League Premier Division, as they shocked an unfamiliar Sholing side in a 1-0 victory on Saturday.

The high-flying Boatmen visited Longmeadow with a starting line-up containing just three players from the side that secured an extra-time victory in the Southampton Senior Cup semi-final two days earlier.

And a determined United side took full advantage of their much-changed opponents, dominating for large periods of the first half.

Former Sholing forward Jamie Mansell had the best chance of the opening 45 minutes, but slammed his shot against the crossbar with half an hour played.

The Jam Boys continued to look dangerous in the final third, but were too often wasteful as the game remained 0-0 at the break.

Whitchurch may have ended up regretting their missed chances, but on 66 minutes Mansell scored his first goal for the club, since making his return, to give United a 1-0 lead.

The visitors hit back looking for an equaliser and Ellis Grant pulled off two great saves to make sure of his clean sheet and a victory for Whitchurch.

A delighted boss, Carl Bennett, said: “I was very chuffed with the win and it was nice to see us perform as we can, as we failed to do this in our last two games and lost both.

“People will look at the Sholing side and say they made eight changes due to playing 120 minutes in a cup tie in midweek.

“However, you can only beat what is put in front of you and they still had their leading scorer Dan Mason playing for them and he scored 25 goals this season.”

The shock win moves Whitchurch three points above second from bottom Fawley and seven clear of bottom side Verwood.

Next up for the Jam Boys is a trip to Bournemouth Poppies on Saturday, who are two places and four points above them in the Premier Division table.

Looking ahead to the game, Bennett said : “We want another win which I think will suck a few teams into the relegation battle.

“Last Saturday I told he players to go out and enjoy their football and we played a lot better.

“Maybe I have been putting too much pressure on the team.

So I will do the same on Saturday and hopefully we will get the same result.”

On Wednesday night, Whitchurch host Andover at Longmeadow in a big local derby.