St Ives Town manager believes his side are the Leicester City of the Southern League

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke.

St Ives Town manager Ricky Marheineke. - Credit: Archant

St Ives Town are the Leicester City of the Southern League Division One (Central).

That is the view of manager Ricky Marheineke, who sees many similarities between his own second-placed Saints team and the table-topping Premier League surprise packages.

He believes both sides are chasing title glory against the odds and despite being constantly written off by rivals and so-called experts.

Marheineke said: “There is no doubt we are the Leicester City of our league.

“Everyone says we shouldn’t be up there challenging for the title and predict we won’t stay there.

“I often listen to and read comments from other managers along those lines, but each week the team that is being written off seems to pick up results.

“The beauty of the fact people around the league think we will fall away is that we are under no pressure whatsoever.

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“We are technically a year ahead of schedule as well. I always said the play-offs would be the target in my third season in charge, and this is my second.

“But we have got ourselves into a position from which we can get promotion and we will do everything in our power to make it happen.

“It is wide open though. There are 10 teams who will still think they can finish in the top five.”

Saints remain unbeaten in 2016 after easing to a 2-0 success at Fleet Town last Saturday. Andrew Phillips and Charlie De’Ath struck second-half goals from corners.

They face teams from opposite ends of the Division One (Central) spectrum in the next few days. They host strugglers Aylesbury United this Saturday ahead of a potential top-of-the-table trip to AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Tuesday.

Marheineke added: “Aylesbury have signed a lot of new players since having a change of management recently and it will not be an easy game by any means.

“We’ll then go to Diamonds with the mindset of not losing. We don’t want to let the teams in and around us in the table take points from us.”

Jared Cunniff’s second spell as a Saints player appears to be over.

The midfield ace failed to arrive for the Fleet trip – only notifying manager Ricky Marheineke of his unavailability less than three hours before kick-off.

It is the second time in recent weeks he has dropped out on the day of a game and proved the final straw for his boss.

Marheineke continued: “Jared has all the ability, but doesn’t have the attitude to match.

“I cannot afford to have someone in my squad who I fear could let me and the players down at a crucial time.

“He has twice dropped out on the day of a game recently and missed three of our four most recent training sessions

“There is no room for Jared in the squad while doing things like that. If he chooses to commit in the way we expect of a player, we can look into him potentially returning.”

Another Saints midfielder, Luca Dusi, has opted to remain at the club and fight for a place in Marheineke’s squad. The former Eynesbury Rovers man had previously indicated he would seek a move elsewhere to gain regular football.

Meanwhile Marheineke is seeking to boost his attacking options with a move for Luke Robins, who plays for title rivals Royston Town.