St Ives Town losing Dubi Ogbonna was a killer blow says joint manager Jez Hall

Goalscorer Dubi Ogbonna was flourishing in the black and white of St Ives. Picture: Louise Thompson

Goalscorer Dubi Ogbonna was flourishing in the black and white of St Ives. Picture: Louise Thompson - Credit: Archant

Losing Dubi Ogbonna to Kettering Town was a killer blow for St Ives Town says joint manager Jez Hall.

While not blaming the striker for leaving for better money, Hall admits that he and Warren Everdell have struggled to replace the striker – and midfielder Jared Cuniffe, who also chased the cash with a move to Rugby Town.

“We are not big fish,” said Hall after St Ives were beaten by Dunstable Town 2-1 on Saturday. “But I thought we played well against Dunstable especially as we were low on numbers again. We had 13 players and a goalkeeper. It was a cracking performance against a top side.”

On Tuesday the Saints were defeated again when Aylesbury United visited ProEdge Westwood Road. The game had been doubtful because of the state of St Ives pitch but the visitors picked up a 4-2 victory with Dan Bannister and Tom Meechan scoring the Saints’ goals.

“To be fair, losing Dubi was a killer blow. And to lose Jared too – they were two of our better players and they gave us a spark.”

Ultimately, last week, Hall was delighted with 31 points at the half way stage of the season. It’s easy to forget that this has been achieved with more or less the same players that won promotion from the United Counties League last season.

The step up to the Southern League was never going to be easy but after 21 games the team has 31 points and another 31 points in the second half of the season is now the aim.

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“Another 30 points has got to be our goal. There is no reason why we can’t double what we already have.

“I still think we would be closer to the play-off places with Dubi and Jared still here. I think we would have half a dozen more points.

“Dubi was a match winner on his day. Each teams needs a player with a spark.”

Indeed, the player – who had previous played for Wisbech Town and St Neots Town – became the first Kettering player to score back-to-back hat-tricks within weeks of joining the club. That says all you need to know about his finishing.

Of course, Conor Washington, who is now playing league football with Newport County, was hard to replace – but they found Dom Lawless. Ogbonna made up for the loss of Lawless. Now they need to find another gem. And they are looking. “We find them and they get noticed.” said Hall.

As if to highlight the limitations of the squad, 52-year-old co-manager Everdell came off the bench for David Cobb against at Dunstable – though a fitter coach you will be hard pushed to find.

Jon Stead socred the Saints goal but Dunstable, who Hall believes are Division One Central champions elect, were too strong.

This afternoon St Ives go to Barton Rovers, another club pushing for promotion. “They keep coming these tough games,” said Hall. “But the lads we came up with are comfortable and we believe we can achieve a top 10 finish this season.”