WOMEN’S FOOTBALL: St Ives Town Ladies welcome back their number one

St Ives Town Ladies, pictured ahead of their defeat at Colney Heath last Sunday, are back row, left

St Ives Town Ladies, pictured ahead of their defeat at Colney Heath last Sunday, are back row, left to right, Ella Burnley, Abbi Griffin, Anna Hicks, Kira Markwell, Sasha Smith, Emily Stephenson, Ruth Fox, front row, Ellen Bullinaria, Katie Stancombe, Georgia Stancombe, Paige Jones, Tierney Coulson, Mollie Flack and Hannah Seymour-Shove. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

St Ives Town Ladies welcomed goalkeeper Kira Markwell back from a nine-month injury lay-off last Sunday.

The influential number one made her first appearance of the club's debut Eastern Region Premier Division season after recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

But there was no fairytale return in the fight against relegation as Darren Marjoram's side who were pipped 1-0 at Colney Heath.

Markwell was beaten just after the half-hour mark as the in-form hosts found the net with the first noteworthy attempt of the game.

Katie Stancombe was close to a leveller before the break when firing over after fine hold-up play from Ella Burnley.

Colney Heath saw a strong penalty appeal ignored early in the second period before Markwell produced a fine save to prevent Saints' deficit from doubling.

And that was the cue for Marjoram's side to go on the attack in search of a leveller.

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Stancombe was denied by a smothering save before Tierney Coulson missed the target with a header after being picked out by an Abbi Griffin free-kick.

And Griffin was also the provider for Saints' two best chances which both fell to Georgia Stancombe - the first of which was steered just over the bar an the second fired wide.

It meant Saints left empty-handed but with plenty of encouragement for the remainder of their survival battle.

They are third-bottom in a section where the bottom two teams will be relegated. St Ives have a four-point cushion on the sides below them and have played fewer games.

They face a tough task this Sunday when hosting unbeaten table-toppers Harlow Town Ladies at Westwood Road, 2pm.