Manager praised as Huntingdon Town go top of league for first time in history

HUNTINGDON Town chairman Paul Hunt has praised manager Ricky Marheineke and his assistant Paul Swannell after the United Counties club went top of Division One on Saturday – for the first time in its history.

Huntingdon beat Rothwell Corinthains 4-2 at Jubilee Park to go above Harborough Town on goal difference after they could only draw 0-0 with Bourne Town on Friday night.

Cambridge City loanee Nike Savalnieks shook off an ankle injury to score another two goals, while Declan Rodgers and Dan Moyes did the rest of the damage.

Savalnieks’ first goal came on 11 minutes before leading goalscorer Rodgers doubled Town’s advantage seven minutes later. Sam Johnson cut the deficit on 37 minutes but Savalnieks restored Town’s two-goal lead three minutes before the break and Moyes sealed the home victory on 48 minutes before Shaun Morris found the net for the visitors three minutes later.

Chairman Hunt said: “Ricky and Paul are doing an outstanding job with the players, and the team spirit is fantastic. The club is receiving calls from players looking to join almost on a weekly basis.”

Town went top because they have scored 11 goals more than their Market Harborough rivals; in 19 games Marheineke’s team have found the back of the net 59 times compared to Harborough’s 48.

“The team are playing some outstanding football and this season have scored more goals in total than any of the 92 Football League clubs including Manchester City and Manchester United - and in less games played,” said Hunt.

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“We will of course look to strengthen the squad however this team got us here and this team will stay and be predominantly built with new and existing players from the local area – so well done lads it is now in our hands.”

Goals have come from all over the field during the first half of this campaig though the addition of Savalnieks has been key with Jamie Blackwell recently injured. Though Savalnieks’ month-long loan spell is almost up, both parties will be hoping to extend his stay with his record a brilliant five goals from just four games.

The Latvian lives in Huntingdon and signed for Southern League Premier side Cambridge from Brampton earlier this season. A permanent deal must be one of the options for the two clubs.

If Huntingdon do win promotion to the UCL Premier Division, Marheineke will need players like Savalnieks to compete with the likes of St Ives, King’s Lynn, Peterborough Norther Star and Long Buckby at that level.

Hunt continued: “We are talking to Cambridge about the player. Niks wants to join us so hopefully we can do something.”

And further down the line? “We have applied for promotion and we are looking into providing 100 seats in a covered stand for next season,” said Hunt, “so a very big thank you has to go to the 50-plus local firms that have supported the club in this our first real attempt at promotion.”

And, eager not to leave anyone out, the chairman also had some praise left over for the groundsman. “Allan Dalrhymple has done a superb job on the pitch and it is looking good – especially for mid-January,” he said.