Ricky Marheineke hails Huntingdon Town’s defensive ‘masterclass’ in derby win over St Ives Town

WATCHFUL EYE: Huntingdon's Dan Moyes keeps track of Dom Lawless. Picture: Louise Thompson.

WATCHFUL EYE: Huntingdon's Dan Moyes keeps track of Dom Lawless. Picture: Louise Thompson. - Credit: Archant

HUNTINGDON Town manager Ricky Marheineke wasn’t worried about spoiling a possible promotion party at St Ives Town on Saturday – but he was still nervous before the start of the big Hunts derby and didn’t really know why.

BATTLE LINES: St Ives' Dom Lawless, left, and Huntingdon's Jamie Blackwell clash in the middle of th

BATTLE LINES: St Ives' Dom Lawless, left, and Huntingdon's Jamie Blackwell clash in the middle of the park. Picture: Louise Thompson. - Credit: Archant

He need not have been. His side were more than a match for the promotion-chasing Saints with winger Ben Seymour-Shove’s two goals securing all three points and a third win out of four competitive games this season between the two sides.

For St Ives, and managers Jez Hall and Warren Everdell, the 2-1 defeat was a massive blow. They started the day four points clear of promotion rival Spalding – but ended it only one point clear with two tough away games left.

It was a far cry from the 5-0 defeat that they inflicted on Huntingdon on April Fools’ Day.

“We knew what we had to do today after the disappointment of the home game,” said Marheineke. “We came with a plan to be a little bit more defensive and we felt that to win the game we could only concede one or two goals as a maximum.

“Unfortunately, for the attacking players, they had to do a defensive job, and the wingers worked exceptionally hard defensively.

“It was a case of trying to hit them on the counter attack and when we got opportunities to try and take them. With the exception of the goal they scored, it was a masterclass in defending really.”

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There was a strong wind at Westwood Road and the game suffered at times. But Huntingdon didn’t have to wait long for their break with 20-year-old Seymour-Shove having two crosses blocked before shooting from a tight angle on the right hand side of the box with the ball finding a gap at the near post.

Dom Lawless, up front for St Ives, is always a handful, but the ball refused to fall for him until the 45th minute when Guy Last played a neat pass into the box for the striker hit it past Enol Ordonez for the equaliser.

If St Ives fans thought that meant their team were going to come out in the second half and take control, they were wrong.

Within minutes of the restart, Seymour-Shove was again causing the Saints all sorts of problems down the right hand side, while the captain Ricky Dear – who was originally a doubt after hurting an eye at work on the Friday – and Jamie Blackwell were both solid in the centre of midfield.

St Ives should have taken the lead though, just two minutes into the half, but Lawless put the kind of chance you would usually expect him to bury wide of the left hand post.

A weak Guy Last chance was stopped by Ordonez as the Saints’ frustrations began to show – and the news that Spalding were way out in front at AFC Kempston Rovers began to spread.

Then things got worse. Stuart Eason crossed the ball to the far side of the box from the right and Seymour-Shove, not the tallest of players, nodded it back across goal and into the far corner with Nick Bennion well beaten. It was a header of quality.

Bennion made a great save from an Eason shot soon after and Dear hit a post after a smart Seymour-Shove pass.

Two late Stuart Cobb crosses were dealt with easily by Huntingdon’s Spanish goalkeeper Ordonez who was never really threatened in the final throws of the game. A shot from substitute Dan Bannister was all St Ives could really offer and that was scuffed wide by the substitute.

Marheineke was to say the least spritely when he talked after the game. He said: “The boys deserve a lot of credit really because after those three defeats when we conceded 13 goals in three games I was very critical and pointed a few fingers and had a few words – and the team has responded with five straight wins, and out of those five wins we have only conceded three or four goals.

“One point now will guarantee that we finish fourth which is unbelievable.”

And of the man of the matches’ performance, he told The Hunts Post: “Ben is a St Ives lad and he hasn’t played as well as we know he can in recent weeks and he was left out in the Blackstones game – but he came back into the starting line up today and put in a really good performance.

“St Ives deserved a lot of credit for that 5-0 win – that was the best a team has played against us all season, that first half an hour. They were far, far superior to us but today we knew what we had to do and the players stuck to the game plan and they were very disciplined.

“I said to them that as long as they could come off the pitch, look each other in the eyes, and know that they hadn’t let each other down, that was the most important thing – and they definitely were able to do that today.”

Huntingdon now need just one point from their final game of the season, away to Stewarts & Lloyds on Saturday, to finish fourth. That would be a brilliant achievement in their season in the Premier Division.

St Ives, of course, need to stay ahead of Spalding and finish in second to be in with the chance of promotion to Step 4. On Tuesday they go to Yaxley and on Saturday they are at Shepshed Dynamo. Before the defeat to Huntingdon, St Ives joint manager Hall told The Hunts Post: “We don’t want to have to go to Shepshed Dynamo needing a win.” That scenario, unfortunately, is looking quite likely now. Spalding have games at Cogenhoe United and Peterborough Northern Star.