ST AGNES slipped to their third defeat in four matches but made St Ives work hard for a victory which saw them bounce back from last week's defeat at the hands of league leaders St Day.
Ross Duncan's well struck free-kick was the difference between the two teams at The Saltings on Saturday, although the win was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests for the hosts as an under strength Aggie side rarely threatened and saw forward Jake Hills sent off late on for a second bookable offence.
The win moves the Saints level on points with title contenders Wendron, but having played three games more, manager James Dagnall admitted after the game that it will be tough for his side to break in to the top four and mount a title challenge.
He said: "There are four teams above us who we probably can't compete against for a number of reasons, but we're aiming to finish as high as possible.
"It was a good three points today and nice to get back to winning ways after losing last week.
"I thought we controlled the first half, we just didn't take our chances. They came at us in the second but we dealt with everything they threw at us."
The visitors were forced to play top scorer Duane Britten at centre half due to a lack of numbers, and while manager Martyn Kimmins was proud of his side's display, he was far from happy with the squad members missing.
"I can't fault the lads who played today for their effort but we had six out today, which is not good enough.
"I'm sick and tired of players who aren't committed and I'm sure I'm not the only manager in the league who has players who are picking and choosing when to play.
"At least I had 12 players who gave me everything against a good St Ives side, and it was 110% better than last week, where I had players who weren't committed."
The lack of quality in Kimmins' side was there for all to see in a first half which was dominated by a hungry home side.
Curtis Richards' cross came back off the post early on, before the right winger saw his fierce drive beaten away by Ryan Bull minutes later.
Bull was then called in to action shortly after, doing well to tip over Sean Roberts' header, before the lively midfielder saw another header cleared off the line from the resulting corner.
Roberts was causing the visitors' makeshift defence all sorts of problems, and he was in the thick of the action again when he was brought down on the edge of the area eight minutes before the break.
Duncan, who had seen a free-kick deflected on to the post five minutes earlier, made no mistake with this effort, smashing the ball in to the bottom corner to put his side ahead.
The in-form striker could have grabbed his second shortly after the break when Richards found him on the edge of the area but he shot wide.
Britton did superbly to clear Martin Harvey's effort off the line as St Ives struggled to kill the game off, but for all St Agnes' possession late on, they failed to create anything clear cut and their afternoon was summed up in stoppage time when Hills' frustration got the better from him and he was given his marching orders.