JEZ Hall doesn’t really want to talk about the race for promotion – he probably doesn’t want to tempt fate, but the fact is: the Westwood Road club only have to finish second this season to win promotion into the Southern or Northern League, as long as Holbeach United finish first.
After last night’s brilliant 2-0 win away at Boston Town, St Ives are 11 points behind the Lincolnshire leaders, but have three games in hand and still have to Holbeach twice.
Last week the chase looked almost up, the Saints had dropped four points in games against Spalding and Quorn – but then Holbeach dropped four points in two games against Stewarts & Lloyds and Deeping Rangers, and St Ives gained ground again.
Now, with confirmation from the United Counties League to The Hunts Post that Holbeach have not applied for promotion to Step 4, as long as St Ives stay clear of third and fourth-placed teams Spalding United and Quorn, who have both applied, promotion is theirs.
But, after St Ives had coasted to their 4-1 win over the United Counties Premier Division’s youthful strugglers Irchester Town on Saturday, Hall smiled and skirted around the issue – in a nice way, of course – when he was asked about the P-word.
He is guarding against complacency, even against teams like bottom-of-the-table Irchester. “I think our players thought they had won it before they turned up,” the joint manager said after the game. “Eventually, though, we did enough and it was just a case of doing that. We hardly got out of first gear really. Conceding the goal from a corner was disappointing but we had a sloppy spell where it looked like it was coming. At the end of the day it was job done and three points.”
Elsewhere, Deeping Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the last minute of their game against Holbeach and only after the final whistle at St Ives did the news come through that the game had eventually finished 3-3.
Striker Dom Lawless took his tally to six in six games with two first-half strikes, while Aaron Last, making a rare start, scored twice in the second.
When pushed, Hall said: “Everything is in our court. If we win every game then we win promotion – but that is a very difficult ask.
“There’s going to be plenty more twists yet, we both have some tough games, we’ve got to play Huntingdon Town twice and we have to play Holbeach twice. It’s not going to be easy.”
Indeed, at Boston – quite a journey for a Tuesday night – captain Will Fordham was sent off and striker Karl Gibbs was used as a makeshift central defender.
But before that Jon Stead had scored the first goal from the penalty spot and Lawless had netted his seventh goal in seven.
“It wasn’t deliberate but it was a sending off,” Hall. “But Karl was fantastic at the back. It was a fantastic performance all round.”
But there was still no use of the P-word.