BRIDPORT assistant-manager Paddy Behan noted the improvements Shortwood United have made prior to their Toolstation Western League Premier Division contest at St Mary’s Field on Saturday (3pm).

Bottom side the Woods remain winless this season but picked up draws against Cribbs and Chipping Sodbury Town in late December.

Bridport meanwhile, occupy 11th place with as many as five games in hand on some teams around them and only beat Shortwood 1-0 away in November despite dominating.

Speaking to the Bridport News, Behan commended the Woods’ young talent.

He said: “When we played them up there, in fairness we could’ve been out of sight in the first half an hour.

“The longer it goes on, and we did score before half-time, it just gives them confidence. They’re not a bad little side, they’ve got some good young players.

“They’ve certainly stopped being whipped by everyone like they were in the first dozen games, there were some people scoring a lot of goals against them.

“This league’s so weird – Shortwood could end up beating one of the top five sides before the end of the season.

“Obviously, if we play to the level that we did against Bitton I think we’ll have far too much for them but yet again we’ve missed chances, which is the story of our season.

“We’ll treat them with respect but we’ll be expecting to pick up three points.”

Behan feels scoring an early goal could be key to breaking the spirit of Shortwood.

He said: “I think that is key. With sides down the bottom if you get a good early start against them it saps it from them.

“The longer they’re in a game for the more they think they’re going to get something from it. If we have a quick start we could go on and win it comfortably.

“But we’re not taking our chances at crucial times. We’ve lost games this season when we’ve had chances to put sides to bed – we’ve been punished.

“Saturday was a classic. Miss a penalty, they go straight up the other end and score. That’s happened to us on more than one occasion.”

Bridport will be without Leighton Thomas (hamstring) and Lee Sweet (unavailable), while Richard Hebditch and Louis Rutter (both knee) remain out.

However, Bridport have re-signed Declan Cornish from Wincanton Town to bolster their ranks.