NON-LEAGUE: Dawkin at the double as St Ives Town squelch their way into the Southern League Challenge Cup semi-finals
- Credit: Archant
St Ives Town took another step towards silverware by battling through a Bedfordshire bog to reach the semi-finals of the Southern League Challenge Cup.
Premier Division side Saints triumphed 3-2 at lower-level Barton Rovers on Tuesday night in what manager Ricky Marheineke described as ‘horrendous’ conditions.
The pitch had to pass three inspections before referee Tim Donellan was completely satisfied that the quarter-final clash could go ahead.
But Saints, who handed a full debut to 17 year-old goalkeeping prospect Tom Smith, were no doubt delighted it did get the green light as they advanced.
“This competition gives us a great opportunity to win a trophy and we’ll be doing everything in our power to make that happen,” said Marheineke.
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“It’s a game we deserved to win, but we made life more difficult for ourselves than it needed to be.
“We were in complete control for much of the night, but failed to put a few good opportunities away.
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“A couple of defensive lapses then made the final few minutes a bit nervier than I would have liked, but we are through and that’s the most important thing in a cup tie.
“The pitch was horrendous and a huge leveller. It has to be the worst surface I’ve ever seen a game go ahead on, but we managed it well on the whole.”
Josh Dawkin needed only nine minutes to slot Saints ahead after being the beneficiary of a quick attacking raid which featured a Scott Sinclair throw and a Danny Kelly pass.
Only a smart save prevented Kelly from doubling the advantage before Ben Seymour-Shove saw his celebrations cut short by a raised flag when pouncing from an offside position on the stroke of half-time after a Sinclair volley had been palmed away.
Sinclair was a whisker away from a second goal when hitting the outside of a post early in the second half before Jared Cunniff did eventually double the lead with a quarter of an hour to go.
Any hopes of a clean sheet for rookie shot-stopper Smith were ended when Dan Hutchins headed the hosts back into contention.
The two-goal cushion was restored when Dawkin bundled in from close range with five minutes remaining and he was denied a hat-trick in the dying moments by a fine piece of defending from Steven Gentle – one of two Saints’ promotion heroes in the Barton side, along with Luke Knight.
There was still time for a Rovers consolation from Jimmy Hartley, but it was too little, too late to stop Saints from marching on into the last four.
Marheineke’s men return to league action when hosting relegation battlers Hayes & Yeading in a Premier Division clash at ProEdge Westwood Road on Saturday, 3pm.
Hayes & Yeading have also reached the League Challenge Cup semi-finals.