LITTLETON have fresh hope of salvaging survival from a disastrous season with Pershore Town also in pole position to avoid the drop.

The Ton Boys sit rooted to the foot of Midland Football League (MFL) Division One with seven points from 26 games but now trail safety by just five points after a recent FA ruling.

MFL officials had been led to believe there would be two relegation places but Smithswood Firs, the team that folded without kicking a ball this season, will count as the bottom club as per National League System rules.

It means Smithswood effectively fill one berth, meaning if Littleton climb off the bottom they will stay up.

MFL secretary Nigel Wood said: “We had believed it would be two (relegation places) but have since been told verbally that it is Smithswood plus one.”

That will be music to the ears of Tyrone Henderson and Oliver Hartill, the duo who arrived last week to work alongside the existing management team according to the club’s official Twitter feed.

Among the influx of new players is Cameron Walker, the Stourbridge striker who dual registered with Worcester City earlier in the season.

Walker notched on his Littleton debut, a 3-1 defeat at leaders Heather St Johns, which also saw starts for new recruits Brogan Halpin and Jeson Dinanga as well as a substitute appearance for Sam Hart.

Leagues at what is known as Step 6 – English football’s 10th tier and the level Littleton and Pershore operate at – have been subject to new FA rules for 2018-19.

From the start of the season the bottom two from each of the 19 regionalised Step 6 leagues is liable for the drop but any withdrawn clubs fill a relegation place as with Smithswood.

There then must be a sufficient number of clubs coming up from the level below which can prove a bottleneck due to the need for floodlights to make the step.

Teams must apply for promotion to Step 6 by the turn of the year with no more than one allowed to be taken from each league per season.

Only 27 of the leagues beneath have put forward candidates to go up, meaning at least 11 will be reprieved from Step 6 even if they finish in a relegation place – and that is notwithstanding any desire to fill leagues short of competitors or that have had clubs drop out.

Reprieves will be judged on those that have the highest points-per-game ratio – the number of points earned divided by the number of games played.

Pershore currently sit in the second West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division relegation berth but have the fourth-best points-per-game ratio of teams currently occupying relegation spots across the country (as at Tuesday, February 19).

That tally was boosted by a 3-1 win at AFC Bridgnorth at the weekend, a result that also put Town within a point of the safety line ahead of welcoming league leaders Tividale on Saturday (3pm).

Littleton’s battle continues with Saturday’s trip to NKF Burbage (3pm) as the new-look side tries to overhaul closest-rivals Nuneaton Griff who have played one game more.