NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: St Ives Town chief Ricky Marheineke heaps the pressure on local rivals St Neots Town ahead of first league derby clash for more than five years
- Credit: Archant
The top two teams in Huntingdonshire football do battle tonight.
St Ives Town entertain St Neots Town in a Southern League Premier Division clash at ProEdgeWestwood Road (7.45pm).
It is the two clubs’ first league clash for more than five years. They last met in a league game in the United Counties League (UCL) Premier Division back in April, 2011, and both have enjoyed two promotions since then.
St Neots won the title that season and then made it back-to-back promotions in Southern League Division One (Central) in 2011-12.
St Ives were promoted from the UCL in 2012/13 and took another step up the ladder when winning the Southern League Division One (Central) play-offs last season.
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But St Ives boss Ricky Marheineke insists it is the visitors who will start as favourites for victory.
He said: “It is a good fixture for both clubs, their players and their fans.
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“It’s a bit of a shame it is on a Tuesday night, rather than a Saturday afternoon or a Bank Holiday, but we can’t do anything about that.
“It is probably a bigger game for St Neots than for ourselves in all honesty. They should really beat us as the established team at this level with the better facilities and bigger budget.
“But the fact we’re playing each other at Step 3 highlights how far both clubs have come.
“St Neots have done brilliantly and they were only 20 minutes away from climbing into Conference football the season before last.
“Their former boss, David Batch, did an outstanding job in a short space of time and it’s now up to their current management team to try to match that.”
St Ives will go into tonight’s game on a high after collecting their first-ever victory at Step 3 last Saturday.
Ben Seymour-Shove’s strike was enough to earn a 1-0 success at Cinderford in the third fixture of their debut season at this level.
St Neots will also be in confident mood after bouncing back from a defeat on the opening day of the season with back-to-back home wins.
Andy Davies’ men have scored eight goals in those two triumphs against King’s Lynn and Frome, and he is looking forward to tonight’s showdown.
Davies said: “Both clubs have had a terrific journey to get to the point where they are now.
“It is testament to the chairmen and committees at both clubs that they have climbed to a really good level. Playing Step 3 football is certainly not to be sniffed at.
“Ricky has done a great job to build a squad capable of competing at this level and St Ives certainly look like they’re going to do that from their results so far.
“It will be a tight game, just as derbies always are, but we’ll go into it on the front foot and aim to win the game.”
St Ives are sweating on the fitness of captain Charlie De’Ath while St Neots are definitely without their skipper. Tom Ward sits out the second game in a three-match suspension following a dismissal in a defeat at Slough on the opening day of the season.
Both clubs have also lost an attacking player already this season. Sam Ives has left St Ives after only two appearances for the club while St Neots have axed Dubi Ogbonna after he failed to show up for their weekend win against Frome.