STUDLEY boss Keith Draper hailed his side’s achievement after Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Uttoxeter Town secured Midland League Division One safety.
The Bees were deep in relegation trouble when Draper and assistant Vaughan Pearshouse took the reins in November but, after a radical overhaul of the squad, their fortunes changed and survival was sealed with Saturday’s hard earned victory.
The Bees can still end the season with silverware with victory in Tuesday’s Birmingham Midweek Floodlit Cup final against Coventry Copsewood.
Draper, who saw Danny Ludlow and Matty Dorgan score the crucial goals at the weekend, said: “It’s been a brilliant effort from the players to turn things around. It was a tough challenge for Vaughan (Pearshouse), Dan Dineen and myself to take on but we were confident we could put a squad together to lead the club to safety.
“We kept hold of just four players and had to bring around 20 new faces in, but the lads’ response has been magnificent.
“We’ve put together an exceptional run of form since Christmas and not one of the boys has ever thrown the towel in at any stage.”
Ludlow gave the Bees a first half lead on Saturday but, following a lengthy stoppage due to an injury to a home player, the hosts levelled.
However, Dorgan struck in the 80th minute for Studley who then stood firm during nine minutes of added time, during which a Uttoxeter equaliser would have left the Bees with work still to do at home to Pelsall Villa in Saturday’s final league game.
The full time whistle was greeted with delight by Studley players and management, although there was one negative for Draper.
“Most of our lads are Birmingham City fans,” explained Aston Villa supporter Draper.
“When I took over, I said I’d be willing to wear a Birmingham shirt if the boys kept us up, so I’ll be wearing the full Blues kit on Saturday unfortunately!”
There was disappointment for the Bees on Wednesday though when their Worcester Royal Infirmary Cup ambitions were ended at the semi-final stage by fellow Division One outfit Littleton.
The hosts emerged 3-1 victors at Five Acres despite Connor Perry-Holmes’ goal for the Bees.
After the league finale, Studley turn their attentions to Tuesday’s (7.30pm) final at Leamington FC.
Studley have long-term injury absentees Jack Moss and Danny Lennon available, but will be without suspended duo Ludlow and Luke Dugmore for the final and also have numerous players cup-tied.