COACH Karl Newman remains upbeat about Clee Hill’s chances of avoiding the drop but insists the spectre of relegation will not alter his philosophy.

A 17-5 home defeat to Edwardians coupled with Willenhall’s 22-8 victory over Telford Hornets saw Newman’s charges drop back into the bottom two not long after clambering out.

Clee Hill were 14 points in arrears at the break and although Connor Deignan got an unconverted effort back, a penalty saw Edwardians create enough of a gap for comfort.

With four matches to go, including trips to high-flying Handsworth and Ludlow, Clee Hill have their work cut out to stay in Midlands Three West (North) but Newman is relaxed.

“The message does not change, if they play to their ability we will start winning. It is as simple as that,” he said.

“You cannot do much about having lads missing and I am absolutely positive that if we play to our potential we can still stay up, we proved that against the likes of Cleobury, Burntwood and Ludlow.

“To be honest, I am more interested in solid performances and being better each week. If we go down, so be it. That won’t affect us too much, we’ll return next season trying to get straight back up again.

“The main thing is getting our game right, the rest will fall into place.

“Results at the weekend put more pressure on us. We realise we have to get a win against Telford and Willenhall will feel as though it is in their hands now but all we can do is get back out there and try to be positive about it.

“We have Telford, Harborne and Ludlow in the run-in and even Ludlow have proved they are not unbeatable. I think they are struggling for players like we are because so many lads are lambing at this time of year.”

On Saturday’s action, he added: “I felt we deserved something out of it. We had two big opportunities to score again in the second half without quite managing to take them.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t convert the pressure into points and came off with the feeling it was one that had got away from us.

“Edwardians have a good side but we battled well and put on a good performance in the second half. We were disappointed not to take something out of it.

“The players still have their heads up. We have a break from the league and will look to get a friendly for Saturday. If we can’t find one, we’ll train and try to keep the morale high in the group. We just need to keep going.”

Meanwhile, Newman was “disappointed” to see bottom club Eccleshall concede a walkover to Cleobury on Saturday with Willenhall set to play them next.

“Hopefully, it was just because it was a Six Nations day but to not turn up at all is not ideal. We certainly don’t need Willenhall getting a bonus-point victory without playing.

“To be fair, they don’t strike me as the sort of club that is going to fold or struggle to complete the season but you never know.”

Clubs looking for a friendly on Saturday should contact Newman on 07860 489978.