NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: It’s like pre-season at St Ives Town as relegation battlers undergo wholesale changes halfway through the campaign
- Credit: Archant
St Ives Town are experiencing a pre-season in the middle of their toughest ever season.
That’s the analogy used by boss Ricky Marheineke when discussing widespread changes to his squad in recent weeks. Eight players have joined the club’s Southern League Premier Division survival fight in the past month while four have moved on. The end result, according to the manager, is a group fully intent on ensuring the club’s second season at Step 3 level does not end in the crushing disappointment of relegation.
Marheineke said: “We’ve had to make a lot of signings in a short space of time. We had three players who wanted to leave and another who was recalled by his parent club. We also have three players out until the new year with injuries.
“This is a great club and we’re punching way above our weight at this level. We have a loyal chairman and board, and a fine group of supporters who are all determined to stay at Step 3.
“The very least they deserve is a team full of players who actually want to perform to their very best for St Ives Town.
“My job is to mould a team that is competitive enough to stay up this season and can then take the club forward.”
The most surprising departure is probably that of wideman Ben Seymour-Shove, who has joined lower-level ProEdge Westwood Road tenants Cambridge City in search of a new challenge. He made a scoring debut for them last Saturday.
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But the exit of one well-known local player was followed by the arrival of another - Declan Rogers - who is back for a second spell with the club.
He hit 15 goals for a struggling St Neots side at this level last term and a repeat of that form would come in particularly handy. Rogers has also struck 10 times at Step 5 for Eynesbury Rovers this term.
Marheineke added: “Everyone will rightly remember Ben for the wonder-strike in the play-off final that got us promoted in 2016.
“He has played a big part in helping us get to where we are today, but things change over time and we will now focus on moving forward with players who do want to be at the club.
“However, we part on great terms. Ben still works for the club and the door will very much remain open should he ever wish to return in a playing capacity.
“We’ve lost goals with Ben going, but we’ve managed to replace them with another local player in Declan who arguably brings even more quality to the table as well.”
Rogers, full-back Luke Warner-Eley and wideman Ben Baker would all have made their debuts at Chesham last Saturday had that match not been postponed.
They will now feature when St Ives hit the road to Dorchester this Saturday ahead of a re-arranged Tuesday trip to Chesham.
THE INS AND OUTS AT ST IVES TOWN . . .
Promotion-winning goalkeeper has returned after a spell at lower-level Eynesbury Rovers.
Full-back who has been playing at Step 4 side Uxbridge this season. Would have made debut at Chesham last Saturday had game not been postponed.
Central defender drafted in from Newmarket Town last month. Initially joined on a dual registration, but then signed permanently.
Busy former St Neots Town midfielder. Scored a spectacular goal in recent draw against Banbury.
Attacking ace was a summer target for Saints boss Ricky Marheineke. Opted to stay at tenants Cambridge City then, but made the switch a couple of weeks ago.
Wideman drafted in on loan from fellow Southern League Premier Division outfit Kettering Town. Quick and tricky and likely to make his debut this weekend.
Local lad with a touch of class and an eye for goal. Got 15 of them for a struggling St Neots Town side at this level last season. Back for a second spell at ProEdge Westwood Road.
A goalscorer in the club’s Southern League Division One (Central) play-off final triumph of 2015/16 - one of 20 he hit in all competitions for the club that season. Now back for a second stint.
Young goalkeeper drafted in on loan from Northampton Town in the early weeks of the season. Recalled recently by League One side.
A talented attacking player, but found travelling distance from his base an issue. Has since moved to fellow Southern League Premier Division side Hitchin.
A prolific striker whose second St Ives Town spell never really got going. Swapped relegation battle for promotion challenge with club tenants Cambridge City recently.
Long-serving wideman who was one of manager Ricky Marheineke’s first signings in the summer of 2014. Has made the same move as Hall to Cambridge City.