St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke was left suffering with a bout of referee rage after his side dropped out of the Southern League Division One (Central) play-off places.

Marheineke was unable to disguise his disappointment at major decisions which went against Saints during a 2-0 defeat at Royston on Boxing Day, while his number two Jack Cassidy was sent from the dugout for comments made to the official in the closing stages of the game.

The pivotal moment arrived with 11 minutes to go as Saints skipper Charlie De'Ath collected a second caution for conceding the penalty which allowed Royston to hit the front.

Marheineke was adamant his team should have received a free-kick as De'Ath battled with home substitute Reece Dobson, but instead they found themselves a goal and a man down.

Their fate was sealed by Okay in stoppage time as he steered a 40-yard finish past a stranded Tim Trebes after the Saints keeper had dashed from his box to clear.

Marheineke said: "I'm disappointed with the result and also disappointed with the performance of the referee.

"We had decisions given against us left, right and centre all afternoon, but we defended well and caused a few problems.

"As the game went on I was becoming more confident that we could pick up a win, but the opportunity to do that was taken away from us by the referee.

"It was not a penalty in a million years. The referee was the only man in the ground who thought it was one and it is all the more frustrating considering we had earlier seen a stonewall penalty not given to us."

Saints had earlier seen their own penalty appeals ignored when striking debutant Andrew Phillips was shoved to the deck in the first half.

Phillips, drafted in during last week from Stamford, had twice gone close before that incident while Peter Clark was denied a breakthrough early in the second half by a fine defensive challenge.

There was a welcome sight for Saints in as midfield ace Jack Higgs returned to action for the first time since October as a second-half substitute following an ankle injury.

But his arrival from the bench was quickly followed by the big talking points as De'Ath was dismissed and Saints fell behind.

That set them on the way to a second successive defeat which leaves them in sixth position in the Division One (Central) standings at the turn of the year.