NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Shock success for St Ives Town is not that big a surprise to their boss
- Credit: Archant
St Ives Town pulled off the shock result of the Southern League Premier Division Central season last Saturday – but manager Ricky Marheineke insisted it wasn’t a huge surprise to him.
Saints continued their recent revival with a fine 3-0 victory at table-topping Kettering Town when condemning the leaders to only a second league loss of the campaign.
A flurry of first-half goals from Ollie Snaith, Sam Cartwright and Danny Kelly left Marheineke’s men in command before Kettering’s hopes of a comeback were dashed by the dismissal of striker Dan Holman.
“I’m sure it will have come as a shock to result to many people, but not to us,” said Marheineke.
“We felt we had put together a plan which would give us a chance of a positive result if able to execute it.
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“We obviously never dreamed it would be as comfortable as a 3-0 victory, but the players went about their business outstandingly well and deserve all the plaudits that will come their way.
“The whole team from back to front, including the substitutes, all ran themselves into the ground.
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“I’m delighted for the lads, delighted for the fans. That’s three games unbeaten and we know we need to back it up now.”
Marheineke’s plan was based on solid defending as he handed a first start to Ben Jackson and brought Charlie De’Ath back into the fold following injury.
It was a back four made up entirely of players who can all operate as centre-backs and provided the platform on which Saints could thrive.
They hit the front in clinical fashion midway through the first half and with their first opportunity as former Kettering man Ben Barker delivered a cut-back for Snaith to rifle into the bottom corner.
The lead was doubled when Cartwright powered in a downward header from Ben Seymour-Shove’s left-wing cross, but Saints saved the best until last in terms of goalscoring as Kelly found the net with a glorious free-kick from 30 yards.
Kettering frontman Holman was then dismissed for a rash challenge on De’Ath but Marheineke felt that being at a numerical disadvantage actually inspired the hosts.
They had plenty of possession in the second half but Saints goalkeeper Martin Conway was not needed to make a save of note . . . even when Kettering substitute Ben Milnes blazed a stoppage time penalty (conceded by captain Robbie Parker) over the bar.
In fact Saints were closest to another goal when debutant Ty Ward, who replaced a limping Seymour-Shove after arriving from Hemel Hempstead Town late last week, curled a shot wide.
Marheineke added: “I’m sure Kettering will blame the referee in part for the sending off, but the truth of the matter is we were already 3-0 up by then.
“It’s not for me to comment on whether or not it was worthy of being a sending off. The only person whose view matters is the man who felt it worthy of a red card.
“I actually think going down to 10 men spurred them on and made the remaining part of the game more difficult for us than it might have been otherwise.
“But we defended really well, we attacked with purpose and we knew we could pose a threat from set-pieces.”
“Ollie got the first goal at a perfect time as Kettering were just started to get on top and we were able to build on that.
“It was a great cross and great header for the second goal and Danny’s free-kick was a moment of absolute quality.”
Those exploits lifted Saints five points clear of the relegation zone. Incredibly they are only six points off the play-off places ahead of a home clash against rock-bottom Bedworth this Saturday.