NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Manager Ricky Marheineke toasts major capture as Lewis Hilliard signs for St Ives Town

PUBLISHED: 20:59 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 23:28 15 June 2017

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke (left) with new signing Lewis Hilliard. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke (left) with new signing Lewis Hilliard. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

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Delighted boss Ricky Marheineke reckons the capture of Lewis Hilliard ranks as St Ives Town’s finest signing.

Lewis Hilliard celebrates a goal for former club St Neots Town. Picture: CLAIRE HOWESLewis Hilliard celebrates a goal for former club St Neots Town. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES

The 26 year-old midfielder has agreed to join Saints ahead of the 2017/18 Southern League Premier Division season.

Hilliard has spent the last 18 months playing National League North football for Boston United after previously enjoying a successful stay at St Neots Town – helping the local club rise up the non-league ladder.

“The fact we are able to attract a player of Lewis’ pedigree to ProEdge Westwood Road shows how far we have progressed as a club,” said Marheineke.

“Someone like Lewis would have been way out of our reach even a year ago, but we have showed that we can compete at this level and have the ambition to kick on again next season.

“This is a signing that will make people sit up and take notice of St Ives Town. Lewis is a hugely talented player who can perform in a number of positions.

“He can create goals and score them, and he’ll certainly address the lack of creativity that was an issue for us at times last season.”

The arrival of Hilliard, who has also played for Biggleswade and St Albans in the past, continues the theme of the summer with Saints having already snapped up another former St Neots player in full-back Brett Longden. Meanwhile five ex-Ives men have joined Huntingdonshire rivals St Neots.

Hilliard is the fourth new face at ProEdge Westwood Road this summer. He follows Longden and wingers Phil Draycott and Jimmy Hartley into the club.

Marheineke is still keen to strengthen his attacking options and may also draft in a central defender ahead of Saints’ second campaign at Step 3. They finished 15th in their first season at that level when also reaching the final of the Southern League Challenge Cup.

“I’m delighted with the way squad is taking shape,” added Marheineke. “We’ve retained a group of very good players and have made some exciting additions.

“We’re still working hard on another couple of targets and hopefully we can persuade them to join us in the coming days.”

Saints have appointed a new physio with James Smith replacing Liam Peaks, who departed due to increased work commitments.

Smith has previously worked in non-league football for Braintree Town and Haverhill Rovers, as well as having a stint with the Cambridge United women’s side.

Saints are keen to hear from anyone interested in joining their board of directors. Contact can be made by email to chairman Gary Clarke on Brookland15@aol.com