Manager Ricky Marheineke has challenged his players to make it the best season in St Ives Town history.

St Ives Town substitute Ben Seymour-Shove is challenged by a Stratford defender. Picture: GEMMA THOMPSONSt Ives Town substitute Ben Seymour-Shove is challenged by a Stratford defender. Picture: GEMMA THOMPSON

His men climbed into the top half of the Southern League Premier Division Central standings following a goalless draw at promotion-chasing Stratford last Saturday.

Saints now sit in 11th position after a terrific run of form stretching back to mid-November which has seen them lose only two of their last 15 league games.

Their first goal is gaining eight more points to reach their survival target of 45, but they also have ambitions beyond that.

Marheineke hopes that bettering the 15th place and 56 points gained in the Premier Division during their first Step 3 season in 2016/17 is possible. There were four more fixtures that season.

Ollie Snaith in action for St Ives Town in their goalless draw at Stratford. Picture: GEMMA THOMPSONOllie Snaith in action for St Ives Town in their goalless draw at Stratford. Picture: GEMMA THOMPSON

"The goal of getting to 45 points hasn't changed," said Marheineke. "That remains the target and it's one we want to hit as soon as possible.

"To be honest we should probably be there already as I can recall plenty of points we have let slip late on in games.

"We missed a last-minute penalty against King's Lynn and conceded from one at Halesowen in the game before that.

"We also conceded a late goal against Banbury and all three of those games ended in draws rather than wins. There was a spell of six defeats in a row earlier in the season as well.

"But we're enjoying a really pleasing run at the moment and once we get to 45 points it will be a case of aving another look at what we can achieve.

"I'd like to think we're capable of bettering the finishing position and points total of our first season at this level and we know there is still improvement to be unlocked."

Saints were involved in their fourth successive deadlock at Stratford - a run which demonstrates how hard Marheineke's team are to beat.

George Bailey was unable to take Saints' best chances either side of half-time before a couple of excellent saves from goalkeeper Martin Conway in the second half ensured they remained on level terms.

Marheineke added: "It was a fair result but I'm slightly disappointed we didn't make better use of the four-or-five decent opportunities we created.

"We were the better team who I always felt looked the likeliest team to win the game, but we lacked any real killer instinct.

"That aside the boys performed really well to pick up another good point against a side with an excellent home record and chasing a play-off spot."

Saints host Rushall Olympic at Westwood Road this Saturday, 3pm.