MANAGER Alan Lay has targeted a return to the Wessex League as Swanage Town & Herston close in on their highest finish for four years.

Saturday’s 4-2 victory over Mere Town seems set to ensure Swans a top-eight berth in the Dorset Premier League less than 12 months after labouring in the bottom five.

Boss Lay, who took over last summer, declared himself pleased with a season of progress but insisted a solid maiden campaign was just the beginning.

The Day’s Park outfit, formerly a powerhouse in the fifth tier of non-league football, once finished runners-up in the Wessex League’s top flight and having secured a firm footing in his first season at the helm, Lay has ambitions to end their 12-year exile.

“From day one I have wanted the club to be up there in this league,” said Lay.

“It has been a good season but next time we need to be fighting for the top five. We have good quality and if we can find a bit of consistency then our lads can go a long way.

“Hopefully, in the longer term, we can push on and get into Wessex One. With the size of the club and our facilities that has to be the aim. We’re not getting carried away because it’s a long way off but it is a target I have for the club.”

Paul Best’s volley, a Chris Woods penalty and Rowan Robinson’s 30-plus yard rocket fired Swans into a three-goal lead at the weekend.

Mere pulled one back after the interval but Ryan Cooper sealed the points, rounding off a slick passing move before the visitors netted late on from the penalty spot.

Elsewhere in the Dorset Premier League, Portland United moved back into pole position on goal difference following their 2-2 draw at Tintinhull on Monday.

Other Easter results saw third-placed Merley Cobham Sports bounce back from Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Sherborne with a 4-1 home win over Holt.

Hamworthy Rec lost 3-2 at home to Mere, while Wareham Rangers claimed the three points with a 4-1 success over Poole Borough.

Victory completed a fine double for Rangers who beat leaders Portland 1-0 on Saturday thanks to a Paul Harding strike.

Matt Newbery was the two-goal hero for Parley Sports in their 2-0 victory at Poole Borough at the weekend. Hamworthy United reserves, meanwhile, chalked up their seventh win of the season with a 3-2 home success over Shaftesbury.

Adrian Latoszewski netted twice for the Hammers, while Vinny Vincent added the third.