SWINDON Supermarine chairman Jez Webb has revealed the club's desire to step up the league ladder was behind last night's shock decision to axe long-serving boss Dave Webb.

Webb, who had been in charge since the summer of 2012, was removed with the club ninth in the Southern League West division, having guided Marine to the brink of promotion on three occasions during his tenure.

Chairman Webb acted three days after the club's 5-0 home defeat by Bideford, their fourth match in a row without a win, and revealed assistant Lee Spalding would take charge while Marine sought "a new, experienced manager.''

In a statement released this morning, the Webbswood Stadium chairman said: "Dave has been our first team manager since July 2012 following our relegation from the Southern League Premier Division and was very much part of the Swindon Supermarine “family”.

"It was our stated aim to gain promotion back to the Premier league within a short time frame and we believe that Dave has done everything he can to achieve that goal.

"Although the five seasons that have passed have offered hope, sadly we have not achieved that elusive promotion goal.

"Over recent years the board at the club have steadily been improving the facilities for players and fans at the WebbsWood and we believe that our improvement projects have provided a great environment capable of sustaining a higher level of football.

"Our sponsors are fantastic supporters of the club and together with our loyal fans, rightly expect us to take positive action in pursuing our goals.''

Former Highworth Town boss Webb took over the role in the summer of 2012 and, in his first season in charge, led the team to a fourth-placed finish and a place in the play-offs where they lost in the semi-final on penalties at Merthyr Town.

The following seaosn also ended with defeat in the play-offs, once more losing at Merthyr Town at the semi-final stage and, after a mid-table finish in the following campaign, Marine reached the play-offs again in 2015–16 only to be beaten in the semi-final, at Taunton Town.

The club made a superb start to this campaign, remaining unbeaten in their first 10 league and cup matches, but their form tailed off with eight defeats in their next 12.

They won three of their first four matches in December, but a defeat at Cirencester Town on Boxing Day sparked their present winless run, with a league trip to Evesham United on the timetables tomorrow night.

In his statement, chairman Webb added: "The decision to make a change in manager is never an easy one, especially when that someone has given you close to six years' service, but the board believe that this mutually agreed decision is in the best interests of the football club, its sponsors and supporters to move the club forward.

"We are committed to building a management team and a squad of players capable of delivering the promotion we collectively strive for and will be advertising for a new, experienced manager immediately. The manager specification and application details will be available shortly.

"In the meantime we have asked Lee Spalding to take charge of the squad for the next few matches and we are delighted he has agreed to do so.

"We would like to thank Dave Webb for the considerable amount of work and commitment that he has given to the club during his time in charge and wish him every success in the future. He will always be welcome at the Webbswood Stadium.''