It certainly wasn’t easy and it definitely wasn’t pretty, but St Ives Town succeeded in making FA Cup progress last night.

Tom McGowan (right) is all smiles after putting St Ives Town ahead in their FA Cup replay. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONTom McGowan (right) is all smiles after putting St Ives Town ahead in their FA Cup replay. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

Ricky Marheineke’s men triumphed 3-1 against Saffron Walden Town in a first qualifying round replay at soggy Westwood Road. They had drawn 0-0 in their initial clash last weekend.

But Southern League Premier Division Central side Saints often made hard work of seeing off their Essex Senior League visitors who had Ashley Skeggs sent off on the stroke of half-time.

The fact there didn’t look to be a difference of one man and two levels between the sides could be viewed as a criticism of Saints, but should be seen as a compliment to a Saffron Walden outfit who showed why they were previously unbeaten this season.

Saints boss Marheineke said: “It was all about getting the result and I’m delighted we did that.

Jarvis Wilson celebrates his first St Ives Town goal with assistant manager Craig Adams. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONJarvis Wilson celebrates his first St Ives Town goal with assistant manager Craig Adams. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

“It was another tough game against a hard-working and physical team. It had a nervy feel from start to finish and that showed in our performance in patches.

“But our young team were mature in the way they stood up to be counted and it’s great to be able to give something back to the club financially.”

Saffron Walden had an early penalty appeal ignored before Spike Lee blasted a shot narrowly wide of the angle of post and crossbar, but it was Saints who made the breakthrough.

Jarvis Wilson fed the ball wide for Ben Seymour-Shove to whip in a low cross from the left which was guided into the net by Tom McGowan.

The two other key incidents of the first half concerned bad challenges rather than attempts on goal.

Saints defender Charlie De’Ath escaped with a caution for a high and clumsy tackle that forced Saffron Walden midfielder Julian Simon-Parson out of the action.

But there was no such leniency shown towards Skeggs as he was red-carded by referee Jeff Aldous in the final seconds of opening half following an ugly, two-footed lunge on Robbie Parker.

The Saints captain showed no ill effects and came close to doubling his side’s leading when bursting into the box but firing over in the opening minute of the second half.

They did find the net again in the 57th minute when another peach of a Seymour-Shove cross was given the finish it deserved by the head of defender Jarvis Wilson to claim his first Saints’ goal.

But any thoughts the job was done were soon dispelled as Saffron Walden hit back within two minutes as Sam Cartwright’s defensive generosity was gratefully accepted by Dan Trendall.

That was the trigger for a spell of Saffron Walden pressure that pushed Saints back against the ropes, but they avoided being caught by another hefty blow before clinching their passage into the second qualifying round.

A quickly taken corner was worked to Ben Baker and his cut-back deflected kindly off fellow substitute George Bailey for Peterborough United loanee Cartwright to nod in from close range and also open his Saints’ account.

That ensured Saints earned £6,000 in prize money and secured a home date against fellow Step 3 side Grantham Town in the next round on September 22.

Before then Saints entertain Stourbridge in a league clash at Westwood Road this Saturday, 3pm.