PORTLAND United underlined their credentials as favourites for the Dorset Premier League title with an emphatic victory at the County Ground.

Jamie Beasley continued his rich vein of form with a hat-trick and Adam Linaker netted a brace for Gary Bailey’s side.

With seven games left and four in hand on leaders Weymouth Reserves, second-placed Portland look a good bet to retain their league crown.

From the manager’s point of view, Bailey was thrilled to have won so handsomely even if it wasn’t all plain sailing in the first half.

“It was one of those games which always had the potential of finishing the way it did,” said Bailey.

“It wasn’t the best spectacle because of the pitch, but I’m delighted to have won 7-1.

“There was some really good finishing and our lads were patient when they needed to be.

“It was a scrappy first 25 minutes. We had the lion’s share of possession but, to be fair, Swanage are a young and enthusiastic side.

“We got a bit frustrated with ourselves at 1-1 but then we scored the third and it was fairly comfortable after that.”

The Blues took the lead on four minutes when Linaker finished off an Antony Carlile cross with a header from six yards.

But the hosts, bottom of the table by some way, equalised in the 10th minute as a Jacob Wood shot deflected off Ashley Smith and beat Ashley Weeks.

But order was restored midway through the half and Linaker was on the scoresheet again, tapping home another Carlile centre.

On the stroke of half-time it became 3-1, Ross Doidge finding Beasley and he hit a left-foot volley across the Hamworthy keeper and into the bottom corner.

Ross Carmichael made it 4-1 on 65 minutes, stabbing the ball in after Lewis Whyton had got his head to a corner, and Ryan McKechnie got in on the act soon after, finishing off a slick move.

Beasley added two more in the closing stages to complete his hat-trick, his second was a similar strike to his first, while his third came from a long clearance by Weeks.

As for Tuesday night’s eagerly-anticipated clash with Weymouth Reserves, Bailey can’t wait for what should be a mouth-watering encounter at Grove Corner (6.30pm).

“It’s an exciting prospect and it has got all the makings of a good game,” he added.

“I’m hoping Lewis Clarke will be back from injury, we’ll have to wait on the fitness of Dan Newnham, but Alex Halloran returns to the squad.

“With our games in hand, it will all probably come down to us and Hamworthy Recreation, but Weymouth still have a chance at the title.”

Blues: Weeks, Smith, Whyton, Carmichael, B Doidge, McKechnie, Mutch (Bastic 65), R Doidge, Beasley, Linaker (Hansford 70), Carlile