St Ives Town chief Ricky Marheineke has allowed promotion-winner Jonny Stead to leave in order to find regular football.
The mercurial midfield talent has failed to win back his place in the team following a hamstring injury late last year.
Stead, pictured, made what proved to be a farewell appearance from the substitutes’ bench on Saturday as St Ives slammed lowly North Greenford 4-0 at ProEdge Westwood Road.
He is now set to play in his home city with Peterborough Sports – a club chasing promotion from United Counties League Division One. Another former Ives favourite, Jimmy Dean, is assistant manager there.
Marheineke admitted: “It has been a pleasure to work with Jonny. He is an excellent player and always conducts himself well.
“He had been thinking about his future at St Ives for a while due to the amount of game-time he has been getting.
“Jonny had been playing regularly until he picked up an injury in November and I had to bring in James Peters who has done very well.
“I never like to see good lads leave, but I understand Jonny’s position. He probably realises that he won’t be playing regularly in the long-term.”
But as one popular player departed, a debutant made an impressive St Ives entrance on Saturday.
James Hall was thrown straight into the Ives starting line-up following his switch from near neighbours Godmanchester Rovers and impressed boss Marheineke.
He added: “James was outstanding. His movement and ability to link the play were terrific.
“His work-rate and attitude were also a credit to him and I’m already confident he will be a big player for us in the remainder of this season and next term.”
Hall was denied an early goal by an offside call, but did provide a couple of second-half assists for Stuart Eason and substitute Jack Higgs to score.
A deflected free-kick from Ben Seymour-Shove and an Eason effort had earlier put St Ives in command in the first half.
Victory moved them to within a point of equalling the tally achieved in the whole of last season - their first at Southern League Division One (Central) level.
They can surpass it when travelling to Potters Bar Town on Saturday.
The currently suspended Kieran Fitzgerald has snubbed a move to Northern Premier Division side Stamford AFC.