Injury concerns mean St Ives may freshen up

AFTER winning 10 games on the trot, St Ives stumbled into 2012 with a defeat at Holbeach United – but joint manager Jez Hall says they will dust themselves down and start again.

After all, the United Counties Premier League side have won 19 games in their last 21. So it’s not all that bad!

After beating Daventry United 4-2 at home on December 17, and then Yaxley 5-1 away on Boxing Day, the Saints’ December 30 evening kick-off at Deeping Rangers was rained off. Then, at Holbeach United on Bank Holiday Monday, they lost 2-0.

Hall told The Hunts Post: “We did well to beat them at home in October – but they were at full strength on Monday and we have a few injury problems right now.”

St Ives had to face third-placed Holbeach without Junior McDougald, Scott Fielding, Jamie Alsop and Guy Last – and then captain Lee Ellison limped from the pitch during the game.

“We need to sort that out,” said Hall, indicating that he and his co-manager Warren Everdell are looking to freshen things up.

“Junior and Lee Ellison both have hamstring injuries and Scott’s problem is ligament damage to a knee – we’re not sure how long he will be out.

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“But Holbeach were the better side so we will dust ourselves down and look for some new faces.

“But we’re not going to panic – let’s face it, we have won 19 out of the last 21 league and cup games.”

Maybe not embarrassed then, but Hall must be frustrated. Only King’s Lynn Town and Holbeach have beaten St Ives since their surprise loss to Northampton Spencer in September, yet they are still only fifth in the United Counties Premier Division table. Above them, King’s Lynn, Long Buckby, Holbeach and Peterborough Northern Star all have tremendous records this season, such is the strength of the division. Long Buckby, for instance, haven’t lost a game yet, and they have a handful of games in hand on their rivals.

With the Saints at Irchester United this weekend, Hall says his first priority is to find some help for striker Conor Washington, who scored one and set up another in their 5-1 win over Yaxley. Washington is at his best playing alongside a big target man like McDougald, who scored a cracking free-kick himself on Boxing Day. And with their big FA Vase fourth round proper game at Tonbridge Wells looming on January 20, there may well be the need to bring in someone new to act as Washington’s foil.

Meanwhile, there is also the matter of next Tuesday night’s Hunts Senior Cup semi-final against St Neots Town to consider.

“Neither of us will probably play a full strength team for that one,” said Hall. “I should imagine we will give the likes of Max Roberts and Tom Spark a chance at The Hunts Post Community Stadium.”

Max Roberts has already shown Saints fans what he is capable of. The 18-year-old scored Ives’ fifth goal at Yaxley, finding a gap between goalkeeper and post with a brilliant drive through a crowd from the edge of the area. It was the best goal of the game.