Fantastic effort from St Ives Town . . . until the game started at least

Charlie De'Ath celebrates his equaliser during St Ives Town's defeat at the hands of Barton Rovers.

Charlie De'Ath celebrates his equaliser during St Ives Town's defeat at the hands of Barton Rovers. Picture: RICHARD MARSHAM - Credit: Archant

The army of morning volunteers did their bit as they turned a soggy pudding of a football pitch into a playable surface by getting rid of a sea of standing water.

The supporters did their bit by turning out in force to ProEdge Westwood Road where a 300-plus attendance assembled in the afternoon.

But the St Ives Town players didn’t do their bit in the final home game of the Southern League Division One (Central) season yesterday.

Ricky Marheineke’s side slumped to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of lowly and managerless opponents Barton Rovers as they failed to enhance their play-off claims.

And it was the manner of the defeat which disappointed the Saints chief the most. His team were ineffective at both ends of the pitch as they defended tamely and finished weakly.

Marheineke said: “Football matches are won and lost in the 18-yard boxes. We didn’t defend ours well enough and we also failed to take some good chances at the other end.

“Our defending was uncharacteristically poor and that made it tough for us. We conceded four goals at home to Chalfont St Peter recently and another three in this game. That’s something we will address.”

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Saints fell behind in the sixth minute when leaving Rovers wideman James Bishop with ample space to lash a half-volley past Tim Trebes.

They should have levelled within minutes but Declan Rogers could only steer his effort against the legs of goalkeeper Kyle Forster when having what seemed like an eternity to pick his spot.

Saints did eventually equalise courtesy of the tidiest of finishes from Charlie De’Ath after Jack Higgs had hooked a mis-directed Rogers free-kick into the danger area.

But parity proved to be extremely short-lived as the visitors hit the front again within a minute. Saints’ defence was completely taken out of the equation by one long ball and Matt Nolan, a striker once of Peterborough United and, more recently, St Neots Town, deftly fired past Trebes.

Marheineke’s men were only millimetres away from levelling on the stroke of half-time as Andrew Phillips guided a header against the bar, but they saw their deficit increase just before the hour.

Tyler Ingham was left with the simplest of tap-ins after Alex O’Brien had returned a deep corner into the goalmouth.

Saints did at least rally with Jared Cunniff halving their arrears with a quarter-of-an-hour to go. He was perfectly placed to fire in a rebound after a De’Ath header had been cleared off the line.

The hosts were perked up by the introduction of wideman Ben Seymour-Shove in the aftermath of that goal and he carved our the best chance for them to equalise.

Seymour-Shove got away from his defender and delivered the most pinpoint of crosses from the right, but the unmarked Phillips could only head down into the ground and wide.

Saints remain in fifth position in the Division One (Central) standings with only Aylesbury now able to knock them out of the play-off spots. The two teams meet in Buckinghamshire on Tuesday.

Marheineke added: “We’ve made life more difficult for ourselves than it needed to be, but we tend to respond well to a disappointing result and we need to do that again.

“Our play-off fate is in our own hands with two games to go – and that is not a bad position to be in.”