STRIKE sensation Olly Balmer confessed it was the “perfect time” to re-join Dorchester Town – despite winning promotion with Winchester City.

Balmer, who turned 23 in April, bagged 26 goals and 17 assists in helping City reach the Southern League Premier South, a feat achieved courtesy of the 4-1 play-off final win over Bristol Manor Farm.

Former Poole forward Balmer could have elected to stay with Winchester and face Dorchester in their new division, only to opt for a return to the Avenue Stadium.

Balmer was part of the Magpies’ reserve team in 2016/17 but was not offered a contract by then manager Craig Laird, instead joining National League South side Poole Town.

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And the striker, who has briefly played under Magpies’ boss Glenn Howes when on loan at Blackfield in 2018/19, is keen to get started with Dorchester.

He told Echosport: “I played for the reserves when I was 17, did well and thought I was going to get offered something.

“I got offered to come to pre-season but there was no security, whereas I got offered a contract at Poole Town and they were playing National League South. So, I decided to go for that.

“I played under Glenn at Blackfield & Langley in a brief loan spell from Poole when Blackfield won the Southern Division One.

“I know Glenn came down and watched a few of my games for Winchester from February as I was posting some numbers and we were on good form.

“He wanted the opportunity to work with me again. Working under him got cut abruptly when I got an injury to my knee. I found myself outside the squad when I came back, so I looked elsewhere.

“It’s really exciting to come back and play for Dorchester, it’s the perfect time in my career to come back and give it a real good go.”

Balmer admitted he has also been motivated to return by the rebuilding job undertaken by Howes and assistant James Wood.

“It’s an exciting project, it’s a complete revamp of the team,” he said.

“Dorchester are looked at as a real sleeping giant. They should be competing at the top end of this table, pushing for promotion. Who knows where it can go from there?

“It’s a clean slate for everyone, a chance to prove myself and really push to be a key part of the team and be really influential, post good numbers at Southern Prem level and hopefully take Dorchester up.”

With Winchester and Dorchester competing in the same league this season, Balmer denied his move was a sidestep, pointing instead to the Magpies’ stature.

He said: “It was difficult to leave (City), we had a real good group down there. I had conversations with Glenn and it’s a little closer to home.

“It’s a big club and the exposure you get at Dorchester – even interviews like this – the togetherness of the area, I just feel Dorchester’s a big club and it’s a big move.

“If we get it right, who knows what we can achieve this season?”

He added: “When I was at Poole I was finding myself with appearances off the bench, so I didn’t have the opportunity to post good numbers that I know I’m capable of.

“So, finding my feet at Winchester stands me in good stead to come back and give it a good crack, hopefully post similar this year, if not more.”

Reflecting on the play-off final win, Balmer said: “It was a great moment to end up with a home draw against Bristol who we had beaten earlier in the season and who we should’ve beaten on the last day.

“We went into it with confidence, we had our home crowd and a good atmosphere.

“I feel like that experience playing in front of that many people in a high-pressure situation and being able to contribute, stands me in good stead to impress the Dorch fans and hopefully get us on the right side of the table.”