NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Spot of bother for St Ives Town as they suffer defeat in a match of four penalties
- Credit: Archant
St Ives Town were beaten on an afternoon of spot-kick drama as they missed a chance to boost their survival hopes.
Ricky Marheineke's men remain six points from Southern League Premier Division Central safety after succumbing to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Rushall Olympic last Saturday.
And four of the six goals at Westwood Road came from the spot with referee Stephen Ross awarding the visitors a hat-trick of penalties - all of which were put away by captain Sam Whittall - and also giving one to the hosts.
"It was an opportunity missed with two of our relegation rivals losing and another one not playing," said Marheineke.
"But there wasn't too much between the two teams and it was a good performance in a lot of respects. We competed as well as we have done all season against a strong side.
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"We defended our box brilliantly under a bombardment with balls being thrown into it from all angles and a couple of really soft penalty decisions for Rushall - the first one and the third one - probably stopped us getting something from the game.
"There were also two absolutely horrendous tackles from Rushall players which were only deemed worthy of yellow cards when we've seen people sent off for far less."
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Returning Saints goalkeeper Martin Conway - back with the club almost five months after his last appearance - was beaten by the first of those Rushall penalties just before the half-hour with defender Ben Toseland the guilty man for bringing down Isiah Bazeley.
But Saints leveled 10 minutes later when skipper Robbie Parker, who had missed his last two penalties, converted from the spot after George Bailey was sent tumbling in the box.
Parker went from hero to villain when conceding the third penalty of the afternoon which allowed Whittall to restore the Rushall lead four minutes into the second half.
And the Olympic skipper completed his hat-trick of successful spot-kicks midway through the second period after Conway took out Kieran Cook as the Rushall man attempted to shoot.
The two remaining goals - not scored from the spot - arrived in the closing stages.
Lee Smith headed in a deep corner for Rushall before Saints substitute Dylan Wilson hit back within a minute.
Marheineke handed a surprise recall to Jordan Patrick, who had been on a dual registration deal at Soham Town Rangers, with Ben Jackson dropping out ill, while fellow defender Tom Hamblin battled through sickness to play for Saints.
"It was a blow to lose Ben on the morning of the game and Tom probably shouldn't have played in all honesty either," added Marheineke.
"He was being sick all morning and before the game, but he wanted to try to get through it and he managed to do that."
Third-bottom Saints host the team directly above the drop-zone, Leiston, at Westwood Road this Saturday, 3pm.