St Ives Town manager Jez Hall sends out a warning to the club’s UCL challengers

JEZ Hall had a message for those teams vying for the top spot in the United Counties League after the Saints were knocked out of the FA Vase at Wisbech Town.

The proud but disappointed joint manager stood in the Fenland rain and told The Hunts Post: “Tonight we are really proud of how the team played – and if we play like that all season we will walk away with the UCL title!”

Hall was speaking after his side’s 2-1 defeat at Wisbech in their second round replay in north Cambridgeshire.

The two teams had drawn 2-2 at Westwood Road just four days before and it was another competitive match that decided who would be travelling to Thackley in Bradford in the third round.

It was a doubly disappointing defeat because it was the first time in six seasons the Saints have exited the competition before the last 64.

In four of those seasons they ended up in the round of 32 – and last season they made it to the quarter-finals before going out to Staveley Miners Welfare in Chesterfield.

There were high hopes that there might be a repeat run this time around – but goals in the first half from Wisbech’s Deakan Napier and Dubi Ogbonna were tough to come back from, despite David Cobb’s 45th-minute stunner, and a couple of shouts that the ball had crossed the line during a goalmouth scramble midway through the second half.

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But Hall is now looking forward – not backwards.

He said: “It’s a great thing being in the Vase, but last season we lost a lot of Saturdays through cancellations or through Vase games, and now they are all Saturdays we have available, so it’s down to us to continuing winning our games.”

Having been top of the table for most of the season, St Ives dropped to second when their home game to Sleaford Town was a casualty of the weather, and second-placed Quorn beat Huntingdon Town 2-1.

But the club thinks it has solved its striker problem by signing Robbie Harris from Holbeach United, one of the other teams challenging Saints for the title.

“We are very happy with the acquisition of Robbie – he scored 50 goals in two seasons for King’s Lynn Town and was doing well at Holbeach.

“Holbeach are a good club as well but there is something special about our club and the support we get is fantastic. We are a good side and we must be a joy to play for …”