Furious St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke blasted Southern League refereeing standards after a heart-breaking defeat last Saturday.

St Ives Town players celebrate a goal at Rushall Olympic. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONSt Ives Town players celebrate a goal at Rushall Olympic. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

Struggling Saints' wait for a first Premier Division Central success of the campaign continued when they were stung by a last-gasp goal in a 4-3 loss at Rushall Olympic.

It was a match in which Marheineke's men twice led despite a number of major decisions going against them.

They looked set to be on the way to a welcome league win thanks to two goals in the space of four minutes just past the midway point of the first half.

Captain Robbie Parker opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Jack Snelus was wrestled to the ground and new signing Matt Foy then struck for the second time in as many appearances.

St Ives Town man Ezra Forde during their defeat at Rushall Olympic. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONSt Ives Town man Ezra Forde during their defeat at Rushall Olympic. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

But the hosts came roaring back, cutting their arrears within three minutes of Foy's effort thanks to a contentious Levi Rowley penalty and then levelling three minutes before half-time through Jonathan Letford - a goal Marheineke insisted was offside.

But it was then Saints' turn to deliver an instant response as Parker restored their advantage with a stunning 25-yard strike straight from the kick-off.

Once again the lead proved to be short-lived as Rushall replied just 90 seconds into the second half when Daniel O'Callaghan struck - and the sides then remained deadlocked until the hosts snatched victory late on.

You may also want to watch:

Rushall man Asa Charlton pounced to break the resistance of a Saints side by then reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Charlie De'Ath - another incident which aangered Marheineke.

The defender was sent off late on when collecting a second caution for time-wasting after being booked on the stroke of half-time for kicking the ball away.

"We played so well to get ahead and the lads' hard work was undone by two shocking decisions," said Marheineke. "It was never a penalty for Rushall and their second goal was then clearly two yards offside.

"I'm not asking officials to be perfect, but I do expect them to get the big decisions correct and that didn't happen on Saturday.

"We were good value for a point at the least and I feel sure we would have got that had the referee not taken it upon himself to send off Charlie and then add two additional minutes onto the four he said he was playing.

"It feels like everything is going against us in the league. We have to stick together and come out stronger on the other side."

Saints have picked up only one point from their opening seven Premier Division Central outings ahead of a home clash with Kings Langley tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm).

They then switch their attention to the FA Cup this Saturday when hosting lower-level Canvey Island in a second qualifying round tie at Westwood Road, 3pm.