NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: What a difference a week makes as St Ives Town come through FA Trophy thriller
- Credit: Archant
A week is a very long time in football.
This time last Sunday, Ricky Marheineke was publicly questioning his own position as St Ives Town boss after the humiliation of a 7-0 home drubbing in the Southern League Premier Division.
Many a manager would have walked away after such a capitulation and many a chairman would have ensured it happened, but Marheineke opted to face up to his toughest test with the full backing of Saints supremo Gary Clarke and the club’s directors.
And two cup triumphs later – with £3,250 of prize money earned – it looks a good decision from both sides.
That windfall came courtesy of yesterday’s come-from-behind triumph against lower-level Leek Town in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy, to follow up a midweek success in the Southern League Challenge Cup.
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Marheineke’s heart will no doubt have skipped a few beats though as Saints gifted their visitors an early lead before having to rely on two goal-line clearances and a couple of super saves while completing a second-half turnaround to sink Leek 2-1.
Defender Harry O’Malley struck at both ends before Ben Seymour-Shove ensured success on an afternoon which could easily have ended in elimination.
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The little man with the habit of scoring big goals came up trumps again when striking in the 80th minute, but that wasn’t the end of the drama as Saints had to see the tie out with only nine fit players.
O’Malley was reduced to the role of a passenger after being on the receiving end of a crunching challenge so striker Danny Kelly filled in at full-back for the closing stages, while central defender Daniel Moyes pulled a hamstring towards the end of a typically gutsy first appearance of the season.
“I gave every player the opportunity to walk away from the club if they felt they didn’t have the stomach for the fight we’re in,” revealed Marheineke.
“They all chose to stay and give their all for the club, and to respond to the result against Kettering with two wins is very pleasing.
“Actions always speak louder than words and the lads have showed that they care about the club as much as they say they do.
“It was an honest performance against a very decent Leek side. To come from a goal behind to win any game of football – against a team from any level – is a great effort.
“We showed real heart and determination throughout a hard-working display, and there were moments of quality as well.
“The boys stood up to the challenge and showed good character to see it out when we had lads out there injured.
“I was delighted to see Harry get us level after his early own goal and Ben came up with another important strike to get us ahead.
“Winning breeds confidence and we can now go back into the league with some momentum behind us.”
Marheineke could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when O’Malley contrived to turn a Rob Stevenson cross into his own net after just six minutes.
Saints were the better side for the majority of the opening period and created plenty of chances without applying the killer touch.
Seymour-Shove should have levelled after being picked out by a Lee Chaffey cut-back while fellow wideman Josh Dawkin saw one effort well blocked before slamming another rising drive over the bar.
But Leek were always a threat from set pieces and Toby Mullarkey’s header brought the best out of Trebes before there was controversy on the stroke of half-time.
Leek striker Chris Budrys burst into the box and went down when confronted by Trebes, but referee Ashley List opted to book the visiting frontman for simulation rather than point to the penalty spot.
Trebes did go into the book himself early in the second half when an eagle-eyed assistant referee deemed he had taken a catch just outside his box.
By then Leek had squandered a fine chance to double their lead as Stevenson headed over at the back post, but it was Saints who found the net on the hour.
O’Malley finished coolly from close range after Moyes had helped a Jack Higgs free-kick delivery into his path and there was almost a quickfire turnaround as Buster Harradine flashed a fierce shot wide seconds later.
But, had it not been for the brilliance of their goalkeeper and the awareness of two defenders, Saints could easily have been behind again.
Trebes kept out a Budrys header from point-blank range before Coulson nodded a Darren Chadwick header off the line and Moyes darted back to be Saints’ saviour as Tim Grice’s effort rolled towards a gaping target.
But relief soon turned to delight as mis-judged back-pass allowed Kelly to roll deliver a low cross that Dawkin diverted into the path of Seymour-Shove, who made no mistake with his finish.
It proved to be the key moment in an entertaining game which seemed to go on for an eternity, but it was Saints celebrating when the final whistle was eventually blown.
The draw for the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy takes place tomorrow before Saints host Dunstable in a Premier Division clash on Tuesday night.