BRIDPORT caretaker boss Shaun Annetts thanked the core of his young squad for their loyalty – despite being relegated on Saturday.

Annetts’ men have struggled with a vast disparity in quality in one of the most competitive Toolstation Western League Premier Divisions for many years.

Consequently, an inexperienced Bees squad has propped up the table for most of the season, securing just one win and a draw in 31 league matches with a minus 144 goal difference.

And their fate was sealed on Saturday on a squally afternoon at title-chasing Mousehole, who won 8-1.

READ MORE: Bridport relegated after 8-1 thrashing at Mousehole

Bridport have battled against player unavailability this season and Annetts has been outspoken on the subject.

However, he made time to praise the nucleus of his team that has stuck by him in the most difficult of circumstances.

He said: “Apart from one game when we lost 12-1 at home to Millbrook, which was an embarrassing day, since I then I don’t think I can say the players have given up in any shape or form.

“I’ve got a core of probably seven or eight players that have stuck with since Christmas. I appreciate everything they’ve done.

“Although my job is horrendously difficult to fulfil these fixtures, those lads have been incredibly supportive of me and I appreciate it.

“We have lost a number of players this season from early on and recently – we lost Tony Carlile and Greg Taylor.

“So, players have drifted away. That’s been understandable to a point, because of the results.

“I can honestly say that had all the players that signed forms for Bridport this year stayed and made themselves available week-in, week-out, the situation would have been so much different.

“I would have loved to have selected a team of players that have signed for Bridport this year.

“I don’t think in all of the games we’ve fielded the same side two games in a row. That’s clearly one of our biggest downfalls – there’s been no consistency.”

Annetts also touched on the camaraderie among his squad to fight on until the end of the season.

“All that said, it would’ve been easy for the rest of the players to have turned in the towel,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of people that have wondered how on Earth I’ve stuck at it. Probably the reason I have is because of those seven or eight players that have supported me.

“I feel that I’ve needed to have stuck around for them as well. Last week (2-2 draw v Brislington) was a massive plus.

“There’ve been little things in every game that have pleased me, even in the darkest days.

“These players give their all and it makes my job a little easier knowing they’re fully behind the cause.”