A milestone occasion for St Ives manager Ricky Marheineke ended in defeat yesterday.

Marheineke took charge of the Saints for the 200th time as they were beaten 3-1 at Banbury in the Southern League Premier Division.

It was a match which followed a similar script to so many others this season with third-bottom Saints generally acquitting themselves well against opponents sitting considerably higher in the standings.

But Marheineke's men were made to pay for a lack of ruthlessness in both boxes as they emerged empty-handed.

“Performances like this are why we found ourselves in a poor position in the table,” reflected Marheineke.

“I can't question the players' work-rate, effort, attitude or application, but we're not taking enough of the chances we create and we always seem to get punished if we dip a little below the necessary standard defensively.

“We've lost too many games that we should have drawn, and drawn too many games that we should have won.

“It's hard to take and we need to start turning those small margins in our favour.”

Saints fell behind to a Jack Self goal after just eight minutes, but they levelled after a quarter-of-an-hour in simple yet effective style.

Recalled frontman Danny Kelly flicked a long clearance from goalkeeper Tim Trebes into the path of loan ace Tom Knowles who delivered for Ben Baker to finish from six yards.

Both sides threatened further goals in a chance-laden opening half, but they remained deadlocked at the break before Saints spurned a series of glorious opportunities early in the second period.

Peter Clark was denied by a last-ditch defensive clearance from Paul Stonehouse after beating Banbury goalkeeper Jack Harding with a shot.

Home number one Harding then pulled off a terrific save to deny Lloyd Groves before Kelly fluffed the best chance of all when heading a Knowles cross wide from close range.

And Saints were punished for their failure to find the net again as Banbury struck twice in the final 20 minutes to earn the points.

Elliot Sandy's header restored the hosts' advantage before Tom Winters curled in a classy clincher from 25 yards.

Marheineke, who introduced new signing Lewis Leslie as a late substitute, added: “It was disappointing to give away the first goal from a silly free-kick on the edge of the box early in the game, but we responded well to going behind.

“We definitely deserved to be level at the break and we then had three unbelievably good chances in the second half that we couldn't take.

“We were denied by a fantastic goal-line clearance and a fantastic save before Danny somehow managed to miss a free header from three yards out when it was easier to score.”

Saints' busy run of fixtures continues with a rearranged home clash against Royston on Tuesday.