Manager Ricky Marheineke has vowed to create a siege mentality as he bids to drag St Ives Town out of trouble.

Saints were left teetering on the brink of the Southern League Premier Division Central drop-zone after falling to a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Hitchin last Saturday.

It was a third consecutive league defeat and a fifth match in a row in all competitions without a goal.

A long winter lies ahead as Saints attempt to win their battle against the drop and Marheineke has issued a call for unity - both inside the dressing room and among supporters.

"It feels like some of the supporters have lost faith and I believe there are also directors who feel the same," said Marheineke. "But it's time for everyone to stick together.

"There is so much negativity about our current situation, but we have to try to turn that into a positive.

"We can't afford to feel sorry for ourselves and we have to relish the position we're in and the challenge of getting out of it.

"I think the vast majority of our players are ready to roll their sleeves up for the fight that lies ahead, but it may be the case that a couple choose to throw the towel in and move on.

"And that is perfectly fine with me because we only want players who are as committed as myself and my management team to turn it around."

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An instant improvement seems unlikely with Saints now facing a daunting run of fixtures.

They go to third-placed Banbury United tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm) ahead of a home date with current second-placed side, Hednesford, on November 16.

A visit to top-six challengers Bromsgrove Sporting then follows on November 23.

"The next three fixtures are ones that many people will expect us to lose," added Marheineke. "But we've often been better when we are up against it.

"We definitely need to see improvement in terms of performances and mentality even if it doesn't immediately translate to better results.

"We then have a series of fixtures at the end of November going into December which are going to be crucial in our season.

"And we have to ensure we arrive at them playing better football than we have done lately and with as many of our influential players available as possible."

Marheineke handed right-back Cameron McWilliams a debut against Hitchin. The teenager has arrived on an initial one-month youth loan from Northampton Town.

Centre-back Ben Jackson and midfielder George Bailey both featured against Hitchin following lay-offs while full-backs Aaron Phillips and Ty Ward, and midfielder Dan Clifton, are days away from returning from injury.

But defender Charlie De'Ath, midfielder Ollie Snaith and attacking ace Jack Snelus are still out for the foreseeable future.