CHAIRMAN Steve McPherson insists the axe was not hanging over Mark Harper at Hampton & Richmond Borough before the Beavers boss quit on Tuesday.

Harper, who was unable to stop Hampton dropping into the Ryman Premier last season, saw his side top the table throughout October and early November, but a terrible run since then saw them plummet to 14th.

After Christmas, Harper was given three games to turn things around, but after surviving that, the last straw was a 3-0 drubbing at bottom side Carshalton on Monday, which followed Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Kingstonian.

McPherson said: “It was all his own decision, but results weren't good and Mark felt he could do nothing more. I think we felt he would see the season out, but losing to the league's bottom team was an eye opener for Mark.

“It is sad for me personally, and it is always a shock when someone resigns, but league tables don't lie, and we'd all hoped we'd be in the top six at this stage.

“The disappointing thing is, one would think with the squad we have, we would be there or thereabouts, but we have not been consistent enough.

“I wouldn't say he was let down by the players, they have just been unlucky with mistakes. You look at what happened with QPR the other night, when it was the players' fault, and you don't expect mistakes like that from you most experienced player.”

McPherson admitted he has fielded a few calls already from people interested in the position, but said he won't be starting interviews for a few weeks.

Veteran defender and coach Paul Barry, who was Harper's assistant, have been put in charge of the first team until the end of the season.