St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke was delighted in defeat yesterday.

The Saints chief saw his side produce an excellent performance despite being beaten 2-0 at Southern League Premier Division leaders Leamington.

Two goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second half – from Courtney Baker-Richardson and Ahmed Obeng – settled the contest in favour of the current table-toppers and title favourites.

“The fact we were disappointed to lose to the league leaders shows how far we've come,” said Marheineke.

“A few weeks ago, we would probably have found ourselves on the receiving end of a heavy defeat in this sort of game.

“But I was very pleased with many parts of our performance – especially the fact that we kept ourselves in the game when being battered in the opening quarter-of-an-hour.

“We steadily grew into the game, had chances and saw a penalty appeal turned down.

“We could also have crumbled after conceding two really well-worked goals early in the second half, but that didn't happen.

“Had we got a goal back, you don't know what might have happened, but it wasn't to be.”

Saints were beaten 5-0 by Leamington in the reverse fixture back in September, and the hosts appeared keen to rack up another emphatic success during a lively start.

They couldn't manage a breakthrough in the opening period when Saints were close on a couple of occasions. Morgan Penfold was denied by a smart save before Jared Cunniff flashed a shot just wide.

Leamington did eventually turn their superiority into goals early in the second half, but Saints continued to create opportunities of their own. The best one fell to substitute Scott Sinclair, who was denied in a one-on-one situation late on.

Saints were without suspended striker Dubi Ogbonna, but fellow frontman Danny Kelly did return as a second-half substitute after a spell out with a groin problem.

They remain in 13th position in the Premier Division – 15 points off the play-off places and 13 above the drop-zone.