NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Crucial Christmas spell ahead for St Ives Town

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke.

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke. - Credit: Archant

Manager Ricky Marheineke believes a hectic festive period will have a big impact on St Ives Town’s season.

Marheineke’s men have scampered five points clear of the Southern League Premier Division Central relegation zone after a four-match unbeaten run which has featured three victories.

But Saints now face a tough run of five fixtures in the space of 14 days – and four of those games are against teams around them in the standings.

They are at a Hitchin side hovering just above the drop-zone tonight (Wednesday) before going to Tamworth (currently one point above Saints in the standings) this Saturday.

They also entertain Lowestoft (who jumped out of the bottom three last night) on December 29 and then make the short trip to St Neots Town – who fell back into the drop-zone last night – on New Year’s Day.

The other upcoming for Saints is a Boxing Day home date against play-off chasing Royston Town and a fine success in the reverse fixture back in August means they can go into that clash with plenty of optimism.

Marheineke said: “This run of games will have a big impact on our season.

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“Four of them are against teams around us in the table and while they’re not necessarily must-win games, they’re certainly matches we don’t want to lose.

“Hitchin flying at the moment and have jumped out of the relegation with three straight wins whereas Tamworth is a tough fixture against a massive club with a big budget.

“You just have to look at where the two clubs were a few years ago. We were at Step 5 and they were in the Conference, so just to be at the same level highlights the progress we’ve made.

“We know it will be tough against Royston on Boxing Day, but Lowestoft is another important game while form will no doubt go out of the window in the derby at St Neots on New Year’s Day.

“We know we’re a match for any team at our level when we get things right and we have proved that lately.

“As long as we continue to put the hard work in and get the basics right, we will stand a good chance of picking up plenty of points over the coming games.

“Even during the difficult times when things weren’t going our way, I could never question the effort of a single player.

“The mood has always been positive and the recent results have only helped that.

“If we can pick up somewhere around eight points from this next block of games it will be a decent return as far as I’m concerned.”