St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke admitted his team must become tougher to beat after suffering a third successive defeat.

Saints went down 4-1 at high-flying Dunstable in a Southern League Premier Division clash on Tuesday night.

Danny Kelly fired Marheineke's men ahead only a quarter-of-an-hour into his debut.

The former Cambridge City frontman struck from close range after strike-partner Andrew Phillips had laid a Jack Higgs corner into his path.

And Kelly came agonisingly close to doubling his tally moments later when steering a snapshot against a post with home goalkeeper Jack Smith unsighted and unmoved.

But Saints found themselves trailing by the break after conceding twice in the space of five minutes to Alex Cathline and Danny Talbot, and a third Dunstable goal nine minutes into the second half from Shane Bush put the hosts firmly in control.

And Jack Green ensured Dunstable gave the scoreline a flattering look with 12 minutes to go as they struck after taking a free-kick quickly while St Ives players lost concentration.

Marheineke said: "It was the best we have started a game all season and we're only a matter of millimetres away from being two goals to the good.

"But I'm very disappointed with the goals we conceded as they are all preventable.

"We have to work very hard to score ourselves, but we're not making our opponents do the same.

"We dominated much of the first half but then found ourselves behind at half-time and it was always going to be difficult to get ourselves level again.

"We were far more competitive than the scoreline suggests and it is very frustrating to have played well against another top team only to come away with nothing again.

"We're going through a tough spell, but I back this group of players to react positively."

St Ives are without a fixture this Saturday, but are scheduled to entertain Merthyr at ProEdge Westwood Road on Tuesday - providing the Welsh club are not involved in an FA Cup replay.

It was also a miserable midweek for St Neots Town as they crashed to their heaviest home defeat for two years.

The Saints were thumped 5-1 by Kettering Town in a Southern League Premier Division clash at the Premier Plus Stadium as they extended their win-less run to six games in all competitions.

The damage was done in the opening half as Kettering sauntered into a three-goal advantage while applying almost constant pressure to their hosts. Spencer Weir-Daley opened the scoring and then hit the third for the visitors after Nathan Hicks had doubled their lead.

But St Neots were much-improved after the break and Ryan Hawkins cut their deficit with the goal of the game seven minutes into the second period.

He powered past two defenders before rifling in his first Saints strike for almost 10 months.

Hawkins almost created a second St Neots goal for Declan Rogers before visiting dangerman Weir-Daley completed his hat-trick to end any hopes of a comeback.

And the margin of defeat for Saints increased when a suspiciously offside-looking Wilson Carvalho struck again for Kettering late on.

St Neots are now out of action until next Saturday, September 24.