Fairytale stuff as St Ives Town complete extra-time comeback courtesy of stunning Ben Seymour-Shove goal to win promotion to the Southern League Premier Division

Winning goal hero Ben Seymour-Shove as St Ives Town beat AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 in the Southern

Winning goal hero Ben Seymour-Shove as St Ives Town beat AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2-1 in the Southern League Division One (Central) play-off final. Picture: DUNCAN LAMONT - Credit: Archant

The local lad hitting a stunning extra-time goal to fire his hometown club to promotion – it could be a fairytale straight from the pen of Hans Christian Andersen.

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke celebrates their Southern League Division One (Central) play-o

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke celebrates their Southern League Division One (Central) play-off final triumph. Picture: DUNCAN LAMONT - Credit: Archant

But this is the glorious reality for St Ives Town after the biggest occasion in their long history also turned into arguably their greatest ever day.

It had looked like the Southern League Division One (Central) play-off final would come complete with a script more suited to Mary Shelley when Saints fell behind with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

But Ricky Marheineke’s men had one last Herculean effort left in them at the end of a long and ultimately magnificent season, and in front of by far the biggest crowd ever seen at ProEdge Westwood Road.

The clock had ticked into the 88th minute by the time Danny Watson brilliantly rifled in a Harry O’Malley delivery to send the tie into an additional half-hour. The dream was alive again.

And then it was little Ben Seymour-Shove who took centre-stage with one hell of a big contribution to make it come true.

The St Ives lad (who grew up within walking distance of ProEdge Westwood Road, and was educated little more than a stone’s throw away) was responsible for an eruption that probably registered on the Richter scale.

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Seymour-Shove, who had been Saints most dangerous attacking player throughout, collected a lay-off from Watson, following a launch from birthbay boy and goalkeeper Tim Trebes, and thundered an unstoppable 20-yard rocket into the top corner of the Diamonds net to the delight of many of the 1,523 fans present.

And it was a lead his side never really looked like surrendering. Of course there was the odd heart-in-mouth moment during a frantic conclusion which featured a couple of strong penalty appeals from Diamonds as Saints defender Steven Gentle put every inch of his 6ft 5ins frame on the line.

But referee David Spain was having none of it as the last blast of his whistle sparked some wild celebrations from players, management and fans alike.

While the eventual outcome and the final 40 minutes were memorable, the previous 80 had been almost instantly forgettable.

Only one hand was required to count the number of accurate passes during the first half. One finger would have sufficed to recall the noteworthy attempt on goal in a game where the concern of losing looked to be out-weighing the ambition of winning.

That came from St Ives when Watson beat Diamonds keeper Matt Finley to a Luke Knight ball into the box, but flashed his effort wide of the target.

Diamonds man Andy Hall and Saints skipper Knight had earlier traded wayward efforts from distance before Watson did at least work Finlay with a harmless daisy-cutter from 25 yards.

The major talking point of the opening period arrived on the stroke of half-time - an aerial clash which left Knight nursing a serious facial injury and in need of an immediate substitution while Diamonds player Dan Quigley collected a caution. It was a rather fortunate outcome for the visitors in all honesty.

Saints made a lively start to the second half with Seymour-Shove involved in their best work.

He lashed a shot from a tight angle into the side-netting seconds after the restart and then mis-hit another effort which deflected wide for a corner following a good run.

Defensive colossus Gentle stuck out one of his long legs to make a vital interception in the Saints’ box before Andrew Phillips guided a header over the bar at the other end.

It was then Phillips’ turn to be in the right place at the right time in his own six-yard box after the home defence struggled to deal with a Diamonds free-kick.

And it was from a set-piece that the breakthrough eventually arrived as substitute Elliott Sandy rose to head in Shawn Richards’ corner in the 81st minute.

Not even those of a Diamonds disposition could have claimed Saints deserved to lose, but that fate did appear to be on the cards until they summoned up the quality and energy to equalise.

No sooner had Marheineke completed a double-substitution (for the record he sent on Scott Sinclair and Daniel Moyes for Phil Draycott and Jordan Jarrold) than his side levelled.

Watson’s goal gave them a lifeline they were not about to throw away. Saints played on the front foot in extra-time and got their spectacular reward courtesy of Seymour-Shove.

It was a goal worthy of winning any game at any level. It is one which will be etched firmly into the history of this most progressive club who are blessed with a fine young management team in Marheineke and his knowledgeable number two, Jack Cassidy. and a group of classy and committed players.

As their preferred Twitter hashtag regularly states, it really is a case of #uptheives

Southern League Premier Division here they come . . .


ST IVES: Tim Trebes, Harry O’Malley, Jordan Jarrold (sub Daniel Moyes 87), Steven Gentle, Charlie De’Ath, Ben Seymour-Shove, Luke Knight (sub Jack Warwick 45+1), Jack Higgs, Phil Draycott (sub Scott Sinclair 87), Danny Watson, Andrew Phillips. Unused: Declan Rogers, Brendan Brown.

AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS: Matt Finlay, Connor Kennedy, Jason Lee, Liam Dolman, Jack Ashton, Brad Harris, Dan Quigley, Shawn Richards (sub Nabil Shariff 106), Lewis Leslie, Andy Hall (sub Elliott Sandy 67), Jack Bowen (sub Tom Liversedge 93). Unused: Tom Manship, Robbie Parsons.

REFEREE: David Spain.