“THERE’S just the little matter of a game against Holbeach,” joked St Ives Town’s joint manager Jez Hall ahead of their crunch match against the United Counties League leaders at Westwood Road on Saturday.
Holbeach are 14 points ahead of second-placed St Ives in the race for the title and for the Saints to stand any chance of catching the Lincolnshire side, they will have to beat them on home soil.
But home soil is a little boggy right now – and there are fears that this game might be another casualty of the weather. No-one wants that, of course, but after Will Fordham and Jimmy Dean picked up injuries in the 4-2 away win at Kempston Rovers at the weekend, another ‘off day’ might be handy.
Dom Lawless and Karl Gibbs got two goals each against Kempston but worries over the fitness of central defender Fordham and midfielder Dean may have just taken the edge of that victory, given the team the Saints are set to face in game 26 of their season.
Here are the stats: St Ives are 14 points adrift of Holbeach but they have played fewer games than their rivals for the title. Three points from this Saturday’s match would deny their opponents the same amount and that would put the Saints 11 behind with a possible 12 available in hand.
“They seemed to get games on when everyone else was struggling during the bad weather – so they got a bit of a head start,” said Hall, who is really hoping the club’s pitch doesn’t let them down again, despite concerns over the injured duo.
“It’s not going to be impossible to catch Holbeach, but it will be tough.
“Our next three games are against first, third [Spalding United] and fourth [Quorn] – but after that we have Irchester and Harborough, who are the bottom two in the division.
Lawless’s two goals in his second game came after one on his debut in the win at Deeping Rangers. The striker has now scored 17 goals in the UCL this season with 14 of them coming for previous club Newport Pagnell Town, but that total is still short of the 26 that the division’s leading goalscorer – Gibbs – has scored.
“He’s been a great signing and is doing exactly what is required,” said Hall about Lawless – but he could just as well have been talking about Gibbs, who joined the club from Peterborough Northern Star during the summer.
At Kempston the Saints actually fell behind to a wonder goal but Gibbs headed home a Jamie Alsop cross for the equaliser before Lawless got the second and Gibbs headed home another, this one from a David Cobb cross, for a 3-1 half time lead.
There were moments of sloppiness in the second half, said Hall, but Lawless made it 4-2 once the home side had got their second.
Now it’s all eyes on the weather and Westwood Road, and that little matter of a game against Holbeach.
St Ives: Nick Bennion, Jordan Lambert, Dan Newman, Will Fordham (Stuart Cobb), Jamie Alsop, Jon Stead, Lee Ellison, Jimmy Dean (Aaron Last), David Cobb, Dom Lawless, Karl Gibbs (Robbie Harris).