A NATHAN Saxby hat-trick has plunged Downton closer to the drop after a dismal derby defeat to Verwood Town on the day Adie Arnold said his farewells.
Arnold quit the Forest club following an eight-and-a-half year stint as head coach to leave Town all but safe, while Downton trudge even closer to a return, sooner than planned, to Wessex Division One.
The weekend full-blooded fixture presented Downton with a chance to grab their first win since October but three well taken goals by Saxby, one in the first half and a double in the second, condemned the hosts to more misery.
A slim 20 points out of their 37 fixtures leaves Downton rock bottom but the “pressure” is off in their five remaining games, says boss Jeff Softley.
“We still have the belief and I’m not one to give up.”
“The pressure is off now.
"It’s difficult for me as I’m one to thrive under pressure but the lads are a bit younger and it’s a lot for them to take in.”
“The focus now is about winning our next game at Romsey Town (3pm). We did have our chances on Saturday but not taking them sums up our season.”
The derby winners, now having Danny Saxby in charge, have been left in a good position after Arnold stepped down, a club he led to the highest level in their 94-year history.
Matters came to a head when former Cherries apprentice Matt Oldring switched to Southern League strugglers Guildford City and Ben Kelly joined league rivals Blackfield & Langley following talks with Potters chairman Steve Jefferis
“It was a sad day,” said Arnold, who decided to leave nine days after admitting his future could be doubt due to not having a playing budget.
“I have been at Verwood a long time and the club is in my blood but I didn’t feel like I could take them any further.
“The final straw came when the chairman said there would be no change to the budget next season so two of our key players felt they had to move on.
“That was hard to take for me and I felt it sent out the wrong message to our players and any we might have wanted to attract to the club.
“I have felt let down on a few occasions this season because I wanted to push on but as it turned out I had to fight just to keep what I had.”
- Tyler Brockway and Joe Sanger’s goals concluded a 2- 1 victory for high-flying Bemerton Heath Harlequins over AFC Portchester.
Christchurch is where they visit on Saturday (3pm).