CHRISTCHURCH chairperson Fiona Clements has spoken out in support of management duo Ollie Cherrett and Chris Hart.
The Hurn Bridge outfit are just two points off the third and final automatic promotion spot in Sydenhams Wessex One.
However, speculation has been rife the club will part company with the pair if Priory fail to win back the Premier Division status they surrendered in 2015.
The rumour mill gathered pace when Christchurch embarked on a recent five-match winless run which threatened to derail their promotion push.
Clements told the Daily Echo: “I just want to put the rumours to bed. Christchurch Football Club is fully behind Ollie Cherrett and Chris Hart.
“As far as the club is concerned, it has always been a five-year plan with Ollie and Chris.
“There was never any pressure towards them about promotion and we have always known we were building for the future.”
Cherrett and Hart took the reins at Hurn Bridge in September 2015 after the club had parted company with former boss Adie Arnold.
They steadied the ship following a disastrous start to the 2015-16 campaign with Priory eventually finishing sixth.
A 13-match unbeaten run between the end of October and the start of February, which included 10 wins, had them in the hunt this season before the blip saw them slip off the pace.
But with teams above them also faltering, Christchurch’s hopes were reignited after their 4-2 win over Fleet Spurs six days ago left them just two points off third place.
Clements added: “I think they have done a really good job with injuries to key players at a key time in the season.
“The injuries we have had have been to goalscorers and they are starting to come back now.”
Priory visit bottom-placed Pewsey Vale tomorrow (3pm), having beaten the Wiltshire outfit 11-1 in December.
In Wessex Premier, Verwood must beat Amesbury at Bonnymead Park to keep alive their slim hopes of avoiding relegation, although other results going against them could also seal their fate (3pm).