NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Vital victory in the St Ives Town survival mission, but it’s followed by a heavy defeat
- Credit: Archant
St Ives Town breathed life into their Southern League Premier Division Central survival battle last Tuesday night.
Ricky Marheineke's men claimed a vital victory in their bid to escape from the clutches of the drop by beating fellow strugglers Leiston at Westwood Road.
Captain Robbie Parker grabbed the only goal in a 1-0 success from the penalty spot after Ben Seymour-Shove was sent tumbling in the 12th minute.
Joe Curtis headed against the bar for Saints early in the second half, but it a took a fine rearguard effort - featuring a terrific performance from goalkeeper Martin Conway - to preserve the advantage.
Saints had to see out the final few minutes at a numerical advantage following the dismissal of impressive midfielder Edmund Hottor for collecting a second caution, but they did enough to earn a sixth win of the season which came complete with a first clean sheet since October.
Boss Marheineke said: 'I'm delighted for the lads.
'We were unfortunate not to be further ahead before the break. We then hit the bar and missed a couple of great chances in the second half.
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'It's only natural that we got deeper as the game went on. We haven't been in the situation of trying to see a game out too often this season and there was definitely a hint of nervousness.
'We managed to get over the line and earn the three points, but we know we need to back it up with more wins during the rest of the season.'
That success cut the gap to safety to four points - and that's the way it stayed despite an away drubbing last Saturday.
Marheineke's men were brushed aside 5-0 at title-chasing Royston Town with all five of the hosts' goals arriving in set-piece situations.
Saints saw an early goal ruled out when Dylan Wilson applied the finishing touch to a Tom Hamblin header from an offside position.
They fell behind midway through the first half and the deficit doubled just before the break.
Seymour-Shove - making his 250th Saints appearance - and captain Parker couldn't take good chances to hit back early in the second half and it was one-way traffic from then on with Town adding three further goals.
'We were undone by a very good team who executed their set-pieces to perfection,' added Marheineke.
'We knew what we would be up against and prepared thoroughly at training, but that still wasn't enough to be able to stop them.
'But the teams around us - Alvechurch, Leiston and Stratford - all lost so it didn't cost us in that respect.'
Marheineke is hoping for a reaction from his players tonight (Tuesday) when Saints host mid-table side Hednesford at Westwood Road, 7.45pm.
They have another important home clash ahead this Saturday against play-off chasers Banbury United, 3pm.