Dorset FOOTBALL fans could be forgiven for feeling a bit down this season – unless Bournemouth are their favorite team.
The Cherries currently sit second to leaders Fulham in the Sky Bet Championship, but the fortunes of the four biggest clubs in the Dorset Council area differ significantly.
Weymouth, Dorchester Town, Bridport and, to a lesser extent, Portland United are all in danger of falling or flirting with it.
Here we take a look at the relegation picture of these four teams and what they need to do to stay in place.
BRIDPORT – 19th (P29 W1 D0 L28)
UNDENIABLY the worst off of the quartet at risk, Bridport have had a nightmarish season in the Toolstation Western League Premier Division.
READ MORE: Tavistock 6-0 Bridport – match report
With the 2020/21 season cut short due to the pandemic, the Bees have had much more time than usual to plan their efforts.
Then boss John Godbold, cleared by chairman Adrian Scadding, opted for a youth focus.
However, the quality of youngsters Bridport have brought in have not been enough to match what has been the strongest western league for many years.
Consequently, the Bees have lost 28 of 29 league games and lost on first demand in all four cup competitions available to them.
Their minus 137 goal difference and a whopping 12-1 loss to Saltash are among the many sore spots for the Bees this campaign.
With the lowest clubs in the 16 leagues in Stage 5 poised to step up, Bridport are on the brink.
The Bees cannot be mathematically relegated midweek – regardless of Street’s result against Saltash – but they can be against Brislington on Saturday.
Shaun Annetts’ men could even beat the Foxes and fall if the results go against them.
That means the Bees must win their remaining seven league games and hope Street earns less than two points in their last 11 games.
UNITED PORTLAND – 17th (P31 W7 D8 L17)
Portland United’s FELLOW Step 5 team are in the best position of the four clubs mentioned.
Franklyn Clarke’s men need just seven more points to secure their status in the Wessex League Premier Division for 2022/23.
READ MORE: Bashley 0-3 Portland United – match report
Second-bottom Hythe & Dibden must win all of their remaining eight games and will be hoping Portland pick up less than six points in their last nine games due to their inferior goal difference.
Hythe currently has a goal difference of minus 91, some 68 goals worse off than the Blues.
Portland, which has one of the most exciting young teams in the division, could take a giant leap to safety with a win downstairs at Amesbury Town on Saturday.
CITY OF DORCHESTER – 20th (P33 W8 D4 L21)
DORCHESTER Town are no strangers to a relegation battle.
The Magpies needed a late equalizer from David Jerrard at Stratford to keep them fit on the final day of the 2016/17 Southern League South season.
READ MORE: Jack Wadham ‘buzzing’ for Dorchester Town loan
In the 2018/19 campaign, a 6-0 win over Tiverton gave the Magpies a game to spare.
Even the pandemic helped save Dorchester in the 2019/20 season when the Magpies were 10 points behind on safety before Covid-19 hit.
Glenn Howes’ men are now 20th and in jeopardy as the worst of the four third-tier clubs in Stage 3 as things stand.
The bottom two from each of the four divisions will fall, along with the worst-off team in the group of the bottom three clubs.
Currently, this pool is rated on points per game and Dorchester’s is 0.08 poorer than needed to reach safety.
With nine games to play, the Magpies have a simple equation ahead of them: finish ahead of Kings Langley.
Lango is 19th, the last safe position in the Pitching In Southern League Premier South but only a point ahead of Dorchester after playing one game more.
The two teams also face off in “Mega March” in what is increasingly looking like a pivotal month.
WEYMOUTH – 21st (P30 W5 D7 L18)
AFTER successive National League promotions followed by consolidation last season, it appears Weymouth are experiencing ‘second season syndrome’.
Former boss Brian Stock had led Weymouth to a ninth place finish after wins over Maidenhead and Solihull were bolstered by a 1-1 draw with Notts County.
READ MORE: New assistant Tom Donati will play a ‘very important role’ at Weymouth
But results soon fell and a brief revival against Aldershot and King’s Lynn was followed by a 13-game league winless streak.
Stock lost his job amid that slump, which sucked Terras into the relegation zone where they sit in first place in the 21st drop zone.
Outgoing manager David Oldfield is now tasked with closing a nine-point gap with Aldershot with 14 games to play.
That might seem like a tall order for a club whose April schedule includes huge Tests against Wrexham, Grimsby, Maidenhead, Yeovil, Notts County and Solihull.
However, the Terras have to produce results somewhere – however unlikely – or they will fall back into the National League South.