BRIDPORT are exercising caution going into their South West Peninsula League Premier East contest with Elburton Villa at St Mary’s Field on Saturday (2.15pm).

The Bees, who have manager Chris Herbst back in the dugout after suspension, lost and drew with Villa last season, despite their opponents finishing 16th.

And an improvement from Elburton in the current campaign has escalated the Devon side into 11th with as many as five games in hand on their immediate rivals.

Their charge up the table has not gone unnoticed by Herbst and the Bees’ boss is expecting a stern test from Villa this weekend.

He told the Bridport News: “Last year we drew and lost to them. We spoke about this in training and we know it's going to be a tough game.

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“They might not push the top four but they’ll definitely be top eight, I’d say. We’re well aware of what they did last year and they’ve improved.”

Last time out, Bridport lost a crunch second-versus-third match 2-1 to Crediton United, meaning they stayed in third place and are now 19 points behind leaders Ivybridge.

Herbst said: “We had a 15-minute session on where we went wrong, with our Veo footage and studying that.

“We know what we’ve done wrong, what we need to do and the bounce back has to be three points, nothing else.”

On Bridport’s title ambitions, Herbst added: “We need Ivybridge to seriously slip up. They’ve still got to play Crediton twice.

“We’ve just got to keep winning. It’s not over until it’s fully over. If we just give up now, what’s the point?

“We’ve got to carry on, try and cement second, keep in touch with Ivybridge and any slip-up we have to jump on it.

“The players understand that and they’re all frustrated with Saturday. I’m confident in them to put that right.”

Bridport were also attempting to sign a new player but as of this week have been unsuccessful.

“Nothing’s come of that,” Herbst said. “We’re still waiting to get the OK.”

There is also positive news for Bridport on the bench as striker Brad Rowe (ankle) is fit again, giving a quality back-up to the Bees’ only other fit striker Sol Ayunga.

However, the former Lyme Regis frontman will begin on the bench.

Herbst said: “He’s been out since the Axminster game with a bad ankle but he said it’s good to go now.”

Bridport are also awaiting a verdict regarding length of suspension for coach Jim Lukosius’ red card against Crediton.