Humbugs still stuck in league limbo

Hayling boss Lee Paul
Hayling boss Lee Paul
Ryan Pennery netted for Moneyfields. Picture: Neil Marshall (171026-11)

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The wait for Hayling Island continues as the Humbugs are left in limbo over their place in the Wessex League premier division next season.

With relegations still undecided in the leagues above them, Lee Paul’s men have been given a nailbiting wait to see where they will be playing in August.

Having finished second from bottom in the premier division table, they are hoping just one side will end up dropping out of the top flight.

With the Southern League’s basement club Andover set to come down, Poole Town and Bemerton Heath Harlequins look likely to replace them.

That would leave the premier division one team light.

And with the Wessex League preferring a division of 22 sides, they would relegate just one team – meaning only bottom-placed Brockenhurst would suffer the fall into division one.

Hayling’s dramatic 4-2 win against Lymington Town on the final day would then have saved the Humbugs.

But Wessex League competition secretary John Gorman is still unable to shed any light on when the decision will be made.

‘We don’t know any more than the club’s do,’ conceded Gorman.

‘We don’t know anything more apart from that there is an FA meeting at the tail-end of this week.

‘But then, of course, we don’t know how long it takes for the news to come out when a decision is made or how long it takes to decide it.’

Humbugs manager Paul steered his team to that potential escape from the drop.

And he is frustrated at being left on tenterhooks awaiting an outcome.

‘It’s a bit frustrating but there’s not much I can do, said the Hayling boss.

‘We’re just waiting to see what happens with the league above.

‘It would be nice to hear before next week because we have the lads’ presentation night.

‘But we’ve done everything we can do and we’ll have to wait and see.’

Alongside the agonising delay for more news, Paul is starting to prepare for the new campaign – unsure of the futures of some of his players.

‘We’re looking to do a few things,’ he said.

‘We only get a two-week break and I know my players want to play at the highest level so it’s hard for them to commit to me.

‘I know three quarters of the lads want to be here, though, and we’ve got the young lads who came through at the end of the season.

‘People like Ashley Fisher, Ryan Summers, Dan Ayres and Matt Blackburn-Smith.

‘And there’s Aiden Smallbones, too, who played three-quarters of the season and he’s only 16. He’s a fantastic player.’

Despite having to bide his time, Paul still insists he is in a stronger position than this time last year.

‘It’s still much better than last season when I had nothing,’ said the boss.

‘Now I’ve got the core of a team, the young players coming through and maybe a few new signings, so it’s better than last year, I’ll say that.’