St Ives Town will host Eynesbury Rovers in the first semi-final of this season’s Hunts Senior Cup at the ProEdge Westwood Road tomorrow night (Wednesday) and Martin Field says his side will be made up of the “walking wounded”.
Eynesbury were knocked out of the FA Vase by 1-0 by Tring Athletic on Saturday, much to the disappointment of the joint manager, but with both club’s likely to field risk-free teams, hopes of progressing in Huntingdonshire FA’s most prestigious competition are high.
Field said he hasn’t been surprised by St Ives’ excellent start to life in the Southern League. “When we played them in pre-season I spoke to Jez Hall [joint St Ives manager] and said they would be quite comfortable in the Southern League.
“They are a half-decent side and once they get settled I think they can kick on. I really do.”
Hall was similarly complementary about Eynesbury. “They are a United Counties League Premier Division side playing in the wrong league. I know that. We played them pre-season and they have got some really good players so it will be a really tough battle.
“But, hopefully, if we play to our potential, we will get into the final. We want to be in the cup final – why wouldn’t we?
“We will give a few of the lads who didn’t play as much as they should have done against Slough a run-out but we’ll give it a go.”
St Ives lost 3-0 to Slough, a week after losing 3-0 to Northwood – but let’s not forget where the Saints came from and how well the team has done in it’s inaugural Southern League season.
After winning promotion from the UCL, the Saints have not been out of the top half of the Division One Central table and joint managers Hall and Warren Everdell – with more than 10 years’ experience in the job – have at the very least consigned any fans’ fears of instant relegation to the very backs of their minds. So two losses in a row (against top six teams, Hall points out) hurt deeply.
“We are used to winning and it takes quite a lot to accept that we are going to lose games,” said Hall. “I find it as hard as anybody because over the last few years I have got used to not being beaten and not being outplayed.
“That’s two Saturdays on the trot now we have been outplayed.
“We got told when we came into the Southern League that we were a decent side, even with the lads that had come up from the United Counties League and, barring the top six in the league, we would give anyone a game – and that’s been proven right really.
“I think we have played five of the top seven and picked up one point from those games. So what we were told was pretty true.”
Slough were excellent, their goals came in the 25th, 55th and 75th minutes. Johnny Dyer got two and Darren Wheeler the other. St Ives were restricted to half efforts from strikers Dubi Ogbonna and Avelino Vieira and late substitute Jon Stead.
“I felt from the start we weren’t at our best, we weren’t creative, we weren’t dangerous in their half and we were making errors in our half.
“There were dreadful errors which were costly, errors which at this level you just can’t make.
“There wasn’t really a lot going on in the game and we have made two errors which have led to two goals. Decent forwards don’t miss and they have decent forwards. We were second best to be honest and I don’t think we did ourselves justice today. This and Northwood means it is two disappointing results on the trot.
“I’m not going to knock the players for effort but we were second best today. But we shouldn’t be too despondent because they were games against two top six sides.”
Next up in the league for the Saints are at home to seventh-placed Daventry Town. Not a top-six side then.
This season the final of the Senior Cup will be played at the home of the current holders St Neots Town after Hunts FA moved it from Yaxley.
St Neots will meet the team they beat in the final last season in the other semi-final at The Cozy Stadium on Tuesday, December 10.