Supposed relegation candidates overcame predicted title challengers on the opening day of the Southern League Premier Division Central season.

Munashe Sundire was St Ives Town's match-winner with the only goal against Tamworth. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONMunashe Sundire was St Ives Town's match-winner with the only goal against Tamworth. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

St Ives Town, who struggled to a third-bottom finish last season and were only saved from the drop by a restructure of the non-league system, overcame Tamworth – a team playing in the National League as recently as 2016 and expected to be front-runners at this level – by a single goal.

The Westwood Road clash yesterday, which attracted a crowd of 306, was settled by a moment of class from its stand-out performer six minutes into the second half.

Munashe Sundire, one of six new signings in the Saints starting line-up, struck with aplomb from 25 yards after being the beneficiary of a wayward clearance from Tamworth goalkeeper Jas Singh.

He opted for a cool, composed and curling shot in a situation where many a man would have rushed and potentially fluffed their lines. Not so Sundire, who’s pace and power will be a big weapon in the months ahead.

Declan Rogers holds off a defender during St Ives Town's victory against Tamworth. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONDeclan Rogers holds off a defender during St Ives Town's victory against Tamworth. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

The fact something out of the ordinary proved to be decisive was no surprise as the two sides created little during a typically hard-fought and frantic 90 minutes at this level of football.

In fact Saints goalkeeper Tim Trebes didn’t have a save of note to make – he was occupied only by occasional catching practice and one piece of outrageous skill to dance round a Tamworth attacker.

Opposite number Singh was not much busier in all truth. Saints loanee Sam Cartwright steered a header from a Declan Rogers corner onto the roof of the net after a quarter-of-an-hour while new skipper Robbie Parker blasted wide from 20 yards in the closing stages.

Those players were both impressive new recruits. Teenager Cartwright, who has been borrowed from League One side Peterborough United on loan, has the broad shoulders and big strides to succeed in this man’s world, while Parker looked very capable as one of two midfield generals along with the out-of-brief-retirement Tom McGowan.

They protected a back four including another youngster in Jarvis Wilson. The central defender was released by Northampton Town during the summer but the evidence of yesterday’s performance suggests he’ll be climbing back up the ladder before long.

Fellow centre-back Charlie De’Ath looked back to his imposing best - especially in the second half as Tamworth opted to pump balls into the box – as the hosts delivered a masterclass in game management after going ahead.

It would be remiss not make mention of lone striker George Bailey either. The former Biggleswade frontman worked tirelessly and will surely score regularly if provided with a better level of service in future games.

Saints’ winning recipe was created by a mix of old and new. There appears to have been a return of the hard-grafting mentality that served them so well when being promoted to Step 3 and during their first season there, but it has come from a squad invigorated by plenty of summer arrivals.

This was a most encouraging start to an important season if Saints are to truly establish themselves at this level of football, but not everyone was impressed.

One particularly irate Tamworth fan was heard to complain they ‘lost to a pub team’ following the final whistle.

Saints’ beer will certainly have tasted sweet.