MANAGER Alan Lay admits he is already excited by the prospect of Swanage Town & Herston flying the flag for the Dorset Premier League in next season’s FA Vase.

Swans return to the national competition – which gives clubs at the ninth level of English football and below a shot at Wembley – after a one-year absence and are the DPL’s only applicants.

It will potentially see the Day’s Park outfit pit their wits against Wessex League opposition once more with Lay revealing the club’s entry has whet his appetite for the new campaign.

“When the secretary told us we could enter we were right up for it,” said Lay. “We will be looking for a bit of joy even if we are the lowest-placed side in the competition.

“I think our eligibility shows that we have a pedigree and the right facilities to potentially play higher over the next few years and testing ourselves against clubs from the Wessex League will be a good challenge.

“While it might be a distraction with the early rounds coming right at the start of our season, the opportunity to play far outweighs the negatives for us.

“We can’t wait to get in there and give it a good shot. Hopefully, we can do the league proud.”

Swans’ hopes of a top-five finish were dented by a 4-0 defeat to title-challengers Portland United last Wednesday before a 3-1 setback at table-topping Weymouth reserves on Saturday.

Title-chasing Hamworthy Recreation walloped Sherborne Town reserves 11-1 with hat-tricks from Luke Stone and Max Wilcock, a brace for Robert Hatchard and single strikes from Kieran Mulvey, Kane Andrews and Dan Manuel.

Fellow championship challengers Merley Cobham Sports lost ground with a 2-1 home defeat to Mere Town.

Graham Rose scored for the hosts who were undone by Scott Martin’s penalty and a goal from Mariusz Kawaler.

Hamworthy United reserves remain bottom of the league after they were thumped 7-1 by second-placed Portland United. Jacob Wood scored the consolation goal.

Cranborne slipped into the bottom three after a 4-2 defeat at Blandford United. Simon Hyde, Oscar Birchum, Craig Haim and Saul Boulton struck for the Royals while Simon Parsons and Dan Loader netted for the Cranes.

Parley Sports leapfrogged Cranborne with a 4-3 win over Bridport reserves. Tobias Holmes (2), Lee Milton and Matthew Newbery were on the scoresheet.

Goals from Luke Pidgley and George Waring were not enough for second-bottom Poole Borough, who suffered a 5-2 defeat away to Tintinhull.