WEST Midlands Premier football is virtually guaranteed for Shawbury United next season, believes boss Dave Richards after seeing his side register a vital three points.

United recorded only a second win in their past 18 league matches – having lost 13 of those games in an awful run – by beating Smethwick Rangers 3-1 last Saturday to ease their relegation fears.

Victory puts them seven points clear of second-bottom Wem Town and although the three sides below 16th-placed Shawbury have games in hand, Richards thinks they have done enough.

Richards said: “Going into our last three fixtures, we felt that if we could get three points we would more or less guarantee West Midlands Premier football next year, and we’ve got those points now.

“Hopefully I won’t be eating my words in a couple of weeks but looking at the fixtures the other teams below us have, it’s a big ask for them to claw back the deficit.”

Matt Minton converted a penalty won by Hugh Burrows to put Shawbury ahead against Smethwick and although the visitors levelled, goals from Jack Hickman and Tom Horton won it for United.

Richards, whose side now have a weekend off, added: “The lads knew what they had to do and getting those three points really takes the pressure off.”