DPL Previews: We’re still underdogs, maintains Portland boss

8:38am Friday 23rd March 2012

By Adam Summers & Ky Capel

DESPITE sitting top of the table, Stuart Heath maintains that Portland United are “still the underdogs” in the race for the Magna Dorset Premier League title.

The islanders lead reigning champions Hamworthy Recreation by two points, third-placed Westland Sports by four and tomorrow’s opponents Wincanton Town by six.

However, their rivals hold games in hand on the Blues, who still have to play all three teams.

Heath, whose side visit Town tomorrow (3pm), said: “We have got a tough run of fixtures now and we will be playing almost all of the top teams.

“But in some ways that can work for you as you know you have to play well in all of those games.

“We have gone top but we are still the underdogs in my eyes.”

The island boss added: “I have never known a league as tight as this one. We have got four teams challenging for the title when normally there are only two, or maybe three at the most.

“The most consistent one, that also stays clear of injuries, will win it.

“Our players have as much chance as anyone, we have got to show self-belief and confidence in each other.

“Much of what happens in the next six weeks will come down to mental toughness.”

Weymouth Reserves face a tough assignment at the Bob Lucas Stadium in the form of fifth-placed Holt United (3pm).

The Terras have given title contenders Hamworthy Recreation and Westland Sports a run for their money in recent weeks, only to fall to narrow defeats on both occasions.

Joint-boss Jake Richmond is now hoping his side can go one better against the Bulls.

He said: “This run of games against the top sides was always going to be tough but we have performed superbly so far and deserved a lot more than what we have got.

“That is why we are really looking forward to the Holt game, where hopefully we can put on another good performance and this time get a result to match.”

Joint-manager Steve Crabb believes a top-six finish is not beyond the realms of possibility for Bridport Reserves this season.

The Bees currently sit eighth in the Magna Dorset Premier League, three points below Parley Sports and five adrift of Chickerell, with 30 still left to play for.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s trip to basement boys Sherborne Town Reserves (3pm), Crabb said: “We got 48 points last year and are currently on 43 with 10 games remaining, so a lot of progress has been made already and there is no reason why we cannot go on now and enjoy a good end to the campaign.

“A top-seven finish is certainly within our grasp and there is an outside chance we could finish higher.

“We have just got to concentrate on what we do and keep putting points on the board.”

Team selection will once again depend on the first team but one man that will definitely miss out for Bridport this weekend is Robin Jones, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury.

Chickerell United boss Maurice Welch is expecting a difficult game at third-bottom Cranborne (3pm).

The sixth-placed Chickens have stuttered of late, picking up just four points from their last four games.

Welch said: “Cranborne beat us 1-0 on the opening day of the season so we will certainly be taking nothing for granted.

“It promises to be a really tough trip but with a bit of luck we should have a couple of players back.

“Josh Why is in line to return and there is a chance Joel Protheroe could feature too.

“Scott Henley is also another possibility, along with Jon Welch.”

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