It was billed as the Battle of the Saints, but it turned into a massacre as St Ives Town delivered a derby masterclass to pile the misery on local rivals St Neots Town tonight.
Ricky Marheineke’s men breezed to the most emphatic of victories in a Premier Plus Stadium encounter which provided the sort of sporting mis-match only normally seen at an Anthony Joshua fight.
It certainly went as the formbook suggested it would. On-song St Ives stretched their unbeaten run to seven league games while extending their managerless hosts’ poor run to nine matches without victory.
The breakthrough arrived from a free-kick, needlessly conceded by St Neots defender Jonny Hall, in the 19th minute. Jack Higgs delivered it, Jack Bradshaw headed against the bar and Liam McDevitt was on hand to sweep in the rebound.
St Ives doubled their lead on the half-hour when Danny Kelly’s perfectly-placed header gave a glorious Ben Seymour-Shove cross the finish it deserved.
Seymour-Shove went from inch-perfect creator to spectacular scorer four minutes before the break when blasting past St Neots goalkeeper Alex Archer from 30 yards after a weak defensive header had dropped to him.
And if that memorable effort didn’t seal victory for the visitors, Josh Dawkin’s effort five minutes into the second period certainly did.
He seized on a wild clearance from Hall, controlled the ball with his head and rifled past Archer to strike against his former club for the second time this season. Dawkin was the late match-winner when St Ives came from behind to triumph 2-1 in the reverse fixture back in August.
It was so much more comfortable for them second time around as they climbed into the top half of the Premier Division table for the first time while St Neots remain stuck in the relegation zone.
And they could have had more goals too. Substitute Morgan Penfold steered a good chance into the side-netting moments after his introduction while Higgs thumped a late blockbuster against the bar.
There were few moments of threat from St Neots after Nassim L’Ghoul had unleashed an early blast from 25 yards that St Ives goalkeeper Tim Trebes had to tip over the bar.
A Declan Rogers corner almost squirmed in at the near post just before the break before the same frontman forced Trebes into a rare save again in the closing stages.
This was the first time all season that St Neots have failed to score in successive games, but their biggest problem clearly lies at the other end of the pitch.
Fifteen goals have been leaked in the last five games alone and tightening up defensively must be a massive priority.
If interim bosses Lee Clarke (who directed operations from the dugout) and Dan Gleeson (who featured in that leaky defence) didn’t already reliase it, tonight will have demonstrated they face a mammoth challenge to lift the gloom.
St Neots Town: Archer, Wood, Gleeson (sub Williams, 61), Ward, Hall (sub Coldicott-Stevens, 76), Hyem, Clark, Rogers, L’Ghoul, Day, Mulready. Unused subs: Buddle, Clement McNee.
St Ives Town: Trebes, Bradshaw, McDevitt, Chaffey, Jarrold, Dawkin (sub Cunniff, 76), Higgs, McGowan, Seymour-Shove (sub Coulson, 83), Ogbonna, Kelly (sub Penfold, 68). Unused subs: O’Malley, Moyes.
Referee: Chris Francis