NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: St Ives Town set a 42-point target ahead of Southern League Premier Division Central opener
- Credit: Archant
Boss Ricky Marheineke believes St Ives Town can again punch above their weight in the Southern League Premier Division Central.
The local club launch their fourth season of Step 3 football today (Saturday) when hosting Tamworth at Westwood Road, 3pm, before heading to Lowestoft on Tuesday night, 7.45pm.
It's a case of deja vu for Saints with their opening two fixtures being identical to last season and Marheineke hopes the similarities don't end there as they triumphed 1-0 in both games 12 months ago.
He would also be more than happy for his side to repeat their best-ever finish of 13th and haul of 55 points from 2018/19.
"It's a new season but our goal always remains the same," said Marheineke. "And that is to get the results we need to stay at Step 3.
"Our target is 42 points as we believe that is what is required to keep out of the bottom three.
"I'd certainly take a repeat of last season as I believe the league is going to be much stronger.
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"We always feel our best chance of winning matches is by setting up to not lose. We have done that effectively in all of our successful seasons and hopefully that will be the case again.
"If we get 42 0-0 draws it will be enough, although I obviously hope there will be a few wins and goals along the way."
Goals weren't exactly in plentiful supply last season when Saints found the net only 36 times in 42 games - a tally that only the three relegated teams failed to better.
But a terrific defensive record was the cornerstone of a successful campaign, with Saints only conceding 43 times which was bettered only by the top three clubs at this level.
Those characteristics don't look like changing given four of Saints' seven pre-season games - including their final friendly outing against fellow Step 3 side Hendon last Saturday - ended goalless.
Marheineke added: "We know we're not going to be one of the highest-scoring teams, but we will try to find the right balance between sticking to our principles and entertaining our fans.
"We have a group of players who will work harder, be more organised and be better prepared than any team we face in the next nine months.
"Regardless of whether we win, lose or draw, I can assure everyone they will again have a team they can be proud to support as they will give their all from the first whistle until the last."
Marheineke has made former Hitchin Town striker Ezra Forde his fifth summer signing following the arrivals of defenders Jeff Woodward and Charlie Johnson, and midfielders Dan Clifton and Jack Snelus.
Munashe Sundire and Owen Wallis are the only players to leave Westwood Road permanently so far this summer although Josh Dawkin has joined Godmanchester Rovers on loan.