NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: It’s a first for St Ives Town as they sample league success on home turf at last

PUBLISHED: 09:35 13 November 2017

James Hall opened the scoring for St Ives Town.

James Hall opened the scoring for St Ives Town.

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St Ives Town’s wait for a home Southern League Premier Division victory is over.

Saints finally tasted success on their own turf at the ninth attempt last Saturday when claiming a vital 2-1 victory against fellow strugglers Dunstable Town.

First-half goals from James Hall and Peter Clark ensured the ProEdge Westwood Road hoodoo was lifted, although Saints had to survive some worrying moments in the second period before registering their third league triumph of the campaign.

“We’ve waited a long time to win a league game at home,” admitted manager Ricky Marheineke, who’s side had drawn one and lost seven of their previous eight Premier Division home games this term.

“Sorting out our home form is a huge priority along with beating the teams around us in the table, so it goes down as a very pleasing result on both fronts.

“We’ve had a tough start against some very good sides. We’re now into a run of games where we believe we can pick up points and Saturday was a good way to start.”

Only a fine clearance from visiting player Jonathan Barnett denied recent recruit Lloyd Groves an opening goal in his first league start for Saints.

But there was no stopping in-form striker James Hall from claiming a third goal in two games as the hosts hit the front in the 19th minute.

Hall seized on a defensive slip from Dunstable man Peter Kioso, who failed to deal with a Jimmy Hartley cross, and slammed in a low shot from close range.

Another last-ditch piece of defending denied him a second goal shortly afterwards. Hall darted round goalkeeper Nick Hayes but a fine recovery challenge from John Sonuga prevented him from slotting into the empty net.

But Saints only had to wait a matter of seconds to double their advantage as Peter Clark pounced in a scramble which followed the resulting corner.

Any thoughts of a stroll to victory were dispelled as Dunstable struck only 90 seconds into the second half. Saints keeper James Goff made a meal of dealing with an Arel Amu free-kick and Sonuga pounced to force the loose ball home.

Only the presence of Groves denied Amu an equaliser before the hour after he clipped the ball past Goff and the woodwork then came to Saints’ rescue midway through the second period as Dunstable substitute Scott Betts headed against the bar.

But that proved to be the final moment of major alarm as Marheineke’s men saw out the contest relatively comfortably to collect three precious points.

Marheineke added: “I heard a few comments that we made hard work of it in the second half, but that’s not the case.

“Dunstable made us work hard for it and there is a big difference between the two things.

“It is important to score goals when on top in a game and we managed to do that in the first half. We then defended really well in the second half to ensure we held on for the three points.”

Saints remain third-bottom of the Premier Division standings and are back on home turf this Saturday when they entertain Frome.

Full-back Brett Longden has left to join lower-level side AFC Dunstable.

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