Vaughan bidding to secure Wessex Premier status

Bournemouth Echo: BOSS: Ken Vaughan BOSS: Ken Vaughan

A CHAMPIONSHIP challenge might be way off for Bournemouth Poppies but manager Ken Vaughan has targeted top spot in their own mini-league to ensure Wessex Premier survival.

Fifth-bottom Poppies find themselves six points adrift of Hamworthy United and Verwood Town directly above them with Vaughan admitting the battle to avoid the bottom two is shaping up to be a five-horse race.

Poppies started the season with a nine-match losing streak in the league but an upturn in fortunes has seen them move five points clear of the drop zone.

But with a testing festive fixture list on the horizon, Vaughan warned that his men needed to be on their toes to maintain their comfortable cushion.

On the fight at the foot of the table, Vaughan told the Daily Echo: “The way it is shaping up, we are in that little lot and while we are on top at the moment, a couple of results either way changes the complexion completely.

“We have some tough games coming up and we might find ourselves in a bit of a dip again so we have to make sure we do everything to keep our noses in front.

“It is very important we just keep picking up points to keep the others at bay.”

Poppies travel to sixth-placed Whitchurch United on Saturday (3pm) without Bournemouth University students Scott Costello and Gareth Owens who have returned home for Christmas.

However, Vaughan hopes to have experienced trio Fawzi Saadi, Elliot Ward and top scorer Martin Warren available for the clash.

Elsewhere in the Wessex Premier, young prospect Alex Martin and defender David Legg miss Hamworthy’s trip to AFC Portchester but Billy Walker comes back in for Graham Kemp’s side.

Christchurch boss Michael Cuffie, who added goalkeeping coach Mark Watson to his backroom staff this week, hopes to have Dan Blackburn, Mark Jamison, James Baker, Gareth Barnes and Dan Saul available for Priory’s home clash with Newport (IoW).

Verwood Town travel to Romsey Town while in Wessex One, Ringwood Town travel to Fleet Spurs and New Milton Town host Stockbridge.

In the Southern Premier, Bashley host fellow strugglers Chippenham Town (all 3pm).

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