St Ives Town took a big step towards Southern League Premier Division safety last night.
Ricky Marheineke’s men delivered a fine display to beat Dunstable Town 3-1 at ProEdge Westwood Road – their first league fixture since a 7-0 drubbing against Kettering 10 days earlier which left the manager considering his future.
But Saints have responded superbly to that setback by following up back-to-back cup successes with this triumph which hauled them level with the teams sitting directly above the Premier Division relegation zone.
Danny Kelly spectacularly broke the deadlock with an overhead kick in the 10th minute, but the lead was short-lived as Jack Bradshaw’s mis-directed header gave Dunstable man Alex Cathline the simplest of opportunities to equalise.
Saints, who lost full-back Harry O’Malley and midfielder Jack Higgs to illness on the day of the game, were back on top on the stroke of half-time.
Josh Dawkin’s perfectly-placed shot through a crowded penalty area restored their advantage and they struck again seven minutes into the second period when Kelly fired into the bottom corner after unselfish work from strike-partner Dubi Ogbonna.
Marheineke said: “It was a really important win to get ourselves level with the teams sitting just above the relegation zone.
“And it was also a fine response from players who are starting to answer the questions asked of them through their performances.
“We look a revitalised team with renewed confidence and have some momentum behind us going into another crucial fixture this Saturday.”
St Ives now sit in 21st position in the standings with only an inferior goal difference keeping them in the drop-zone.
They are one of nine teams – up to Kings Langley in 13th – who are covered by just three points and with a home date against rock-bottom Cinderford this weekend, further progress is on the cards.
Elsewhere last night, two local teams suffered cup exits.
Eynesbury Rovers were surprise casualties in the second round of the United Counties League KO Cup. They were beaten 1-0 by lower-level Olney Town at Hall Road.
Cambs League Kershaw Premier Division table-toppers Eaton Socon suffered their first defeat of the season . . . in their 19th fixture.
And it took a team who play two levels higher – United Counties League Premier Division outfit Wisbech Town – to beat them.
Eaton Socon went down 4-2 in a Cambs Invitation Cup quarter-final after taking an early lead through Lee Bassett. Andy Clare hit their other goal in the second half.