Another strong case for the St Ives Town defence was put forward last Saturday.

Munashe Sundire was closest to a breakthrough in St Ives Town's stalemate with AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONMunashe Sundire was closest to a breakthrough in St Ives Town's stalemate with AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

A goalless Southern League Premier Division Central battle against play-off chasers AFC Rushden & Diamonds at Westwood Road came complete with a 13th clean sheet of the campaign.

It means Ricky Marheineke's side have now shut-out their opponents in more than a third of their league fixtures this season. They also possess the joint-third best defensive record in the division despite sitting in the bottom half of the standings.

They were rarely troubled by Diamonds, but also posed little threat themselves in a game of few chances.

Loan ace Morgan Penfold fired wide when having Saints' best opportunity of the opening half before Andrew Osei-Bonsu and Ben Seymour-Shove both missed the target from good positions in the second period.

Tom Wood tries to get his head on the ball as St Ives Town drew with AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONTom Wood tries to get his head on the ball as St Ives Town drew with AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

Munashe Sundire, operating out of position as an emergency right-back, fared better when testing Diamonds goalkeeper Ben Heath with a low drive from 20 yards, but a breakthrough rarely seemed likely.

“We never looked like we were going to concede a goal,” said Marheineke.

“We defended so well that out goalkeeper didn't have a save to make in 90 minutes against a team chasing a play-off place.

“We conceded 103 goals last season so to have only let in 39 this season represents huge progress.

“We also got ourselves into some excellent attacking positions but all too often we were let down by either a poor decision or a lack of quality.

“We had several situations where we could have really threatened but didn't manage to and we have to work on improving that conversion rate of turning promising attacks into actual efforts on goal.

“Of course we would like a few more goals, but we have to remember that our success is based on keeping the ball out of our net.”

Saints are back on home turf again this Saturday when entertaining improving Redditch, 3pm.

The Midlands men are a lowly 18th in the standings – five places below Marheineke's side – but they will roll into Westwood Road in excellent form.

“Redditch have only lost one of their last eight games yet they are still 18th,” added Marheineke. “That demonstrates how tough it is at this level of football, but it's a game in which we want to pick up points.

“Our two remaining home games are both against sides below us in the table and hopefully we can make the most of them and get ourselves past the 50-point barrier.”

Marheineke expects defenders Gav Hoyte and Charle De'Ath to miss the remainder of the season due to injuries.

Full-back Ben Jackson also missed the clash against Diamonds with a foot problem sustained in training last week, but he could return against Redditch.