BRIDPORT fans might be glad to see the back of this season.

Wholesale changes were made to the playing and management staff in the wake of former boss Adam Fricker’s decision to step down.

Along with Fricker, Bridport lost star players such as forwards Ed Butcher, Leighton Thomas, Richard Hebditch and the retiring Mark Salter plus key defender Chris McGrath.

Such a significant rebuilding job would prove challenging for any manager, let alone a boss embarking on his first foray into Western League management.

Coming from Dorchester Town’s setup with an enhancing reputation, Rich Robson set about his work early, bringing in young talent such as Joel Hewitt.

Robson also made some shrewd signings in striker Lewis Clarke plus midfielders Callum Thompson and Tom Richardson, while Bees’ favourite Ryan Dovell became his assistant.

However, a 4-1 defeat at promoted side Exmouth Town hinted at a rocky path ahead and so those suspicions were proven.

Bridport were winless in the league in their first three games – conceding 12 goals – and went out of the FA Cup extra preliminary round in a 2-1 loss to big-spending Bitton.

However, a chink of light punctuated fears over the Bees’ start as Robson’s men collected a 2-1 victory at Cadbury Heath, Dovell netting a stunning stoppage-time free-kick.

Bridport then exited the FA Vase, going down 3-0 at Bashley and only collected one point – a 3-3 draw with Keynsham – in their next four league games.

Robson’s record stood at 10 games and eight losses with a win and solitary draw when he handed in his resignation.

Bridport swiftly recruited Jamie Manley and number two Kevin Leigh to the post and the duo delivered an impressive 4-0 victory at Chipping Sodbury Town in their debut game.

On ground-hop day, a 6-0 loss to Bridgwater Town began a run of three defeats before beating Hallen 1-0.

Up to then, the loss to Town was Bridport’s biggest of the season but that statistic was about to change in two disastrous thrashings.

Selection issues and work ethic were highlighted by Manley as first Street slammed the Bees in a 9-2 loss, before promotion-chasing Bradford piled in with a 9-0 victory.

Three more losses followed before Bridport completed the double over Heath, winning 2-0.

With postponements and poor weather disruptive, the Bees’ season took a further plunge with a run of six straight defeats amid a challenging festive period.

An entertaining 4-3 victory over relegation rivals Odd Down gave Bridport hope of escaping the drop, added to a 2-2 draw with Roman Glass St George.

Manley’s men still languished in the bottom four when consecutive 5-0 defeats to Bitton and Buckland Athletic pushed them into 19th.

Bridport could then breathe a sign of relief when the FA announced all Step 3 to 7 leagues would be voided, without promotion or relegation.

While Bridport have escaped a nervy finish, the Bees’ loyal support can now look forward to Manley creating his own squad as the rebuild continues.