ST Ives captain Lee Ellison scored both goals in their 2-0 win over United Counties League Premier Division newcomers Shepshed Dynamo at Westwood Road on Saturday.
Ellison got his first on 25 minutes when he headed home a corner from six yards, and his second came in the 70th minute when he nodded home an excellent Jon Stead free-kick.
But the saints joint manager Jez Hall though there could have been many more goals in a game he described as “tough”.
“They played 4-3-3,” said Hall. “They played it wide and direct. They were all over us early doors but we took control back and steadied the game.”
The result sees the Saints still five points clear at the top of the table but Hall knows he and fellow boss can’t sit back on their laurels.
Striker Karl Gibbs was missing on Saturday with a groin problem that kept him out of the Peterborough Northern Star team for a couple of months last season. It’s not serious, but Hall said they decided to give the player a week off to recover from the slight niggle.
“We listened to our physio and decided we were better without him for one game instead of many,” said Hall. “We will keep him wrapped up in cotton wool.”
So Junior McDougald returned from his injury problems to play 60 minutes alongside Ricky Miller, who failed to score for the first time since his moved from Corby Town.
“Junior did well but he is only just coming back and we can’t make him play a full 90 minutes,” said Hall, who rued at least four missed chances in the game.
McDouglad was huilty of one when he missed an open goal, Stead had two one-on-ones with the Shepshed goalkeeper, and Scott Fielding, who came on for McDougalnd in the second half, took the ball around the goalkeeper but missed his kick.
There were further problems when Will Fordham left the field with a hamstring injury and, without a defender on the bench, winger Stuart Cobb was asked to fill in at left back.
Hall said: “He did a great job there – but we are going to have to find a defender. We are seriously lacking in that department now.”
Dan Newman, of course, was again solid as a rock in what was his 500th game for the club, while goalkeeper Niall Conroy-Owen was also celebrating – it was his 100th game.
The Saints are at Irchester United in the UCL Cup tonight (Tuesday) and on Saturday they are in Corby where they will play Stewarts & Lloyds at Occupation Road.
St Ives: Niall Conroy Own, Jordan Lambert, Dan Newman, Will Fordham (Stuart Cobb), Jimmy Dean, Ben Walshe, Lee Ellison, Ricky Miller, Junior McDougald (Scott Fielding), Jon Stead (Matt Roberts).