NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Ely City finally able to celebrate a first success of 2019
- Credit: Archant
Boss Brady Stone breathed a sigh of relief after Ely City finally earned a first win of 2019.
The Robins have been dragged into a Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division survival battle by a seven-match losing streak.
But they boosted their survival hopes by overcoming fellow strugglers Hadleigh 2-1 in what Stone dubbed a ‘must-win’ clash at the Ellgia Stadium last Saturday.
Goalkeeper Harry Reynolds was the Ely hero early on as he saved a ninth-minute penalty after Tom Williams was adjudged to have handled.
City then took command with goals either side of half-time – both of which were crafted by the dead-ball brilliance of Jamie Alsop and finished by Ash Walter and Williams.
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Although, typically for Ely, it was far from plain sailing as they had to survive nine minutes of stoppage time – during which the visitors halved their arrears - before being able to celebrate what their manager described as an ‘absolutely massive result’.
“It was a real bottom-of-the-table clash between a couple of sides desperate for points,” said Stone. “But all that matters at this stage of the season is picking up results and we managed to do that.
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“The penalty save from Harry was huge and we got the goals at good times to put ourselves in control.
“I have absolutely no idea where all the stoppage time came from. It was a real shame to see us concede as our performance deserved the clean sheet.
“But it’s a huge win for us which really helps our chances of staying up in what has been a really tough season with injuries, availability and player departures.
“Myself and Martin (assistant boss, Grey) feel it will be a bigger achievement to avoid relegation than it was to get promotion, win the county cup or reach the fifth round of the FA Vase.
“The league table doesn’t lie and we’re still in a very tough spot. I feel we need another 10-15 points from our final nine games to keep us up.”
Ely face another crucial clash against a bottom-six side this Saturday when going to Thetford, 3pm.
The club’s availability issues have again been highlighted with seven of the 15 players involved in the squad for the success against Hadleigh now not available.
Striker Alex Theobald and full-back Daniel Jeffrey are both out with ankle injuries, while George Darling, Scott Callaghan, Alex Batten, Joe Brannan are all unavailable. Walter could also be a doubt due to a house move.
“Thetford have some good players and they’ve been on an excellent run lately,” added Stone.
“It’s a tough place to go, but virtually any team is capable of beating any other in this league.
“It would be happy days for us to come away with a point and getting three would be even better. Then again if we get beaten we will dust ourselves down and go again on Tuesday.”
City host fourth-placed Stowmarket in a re-arranged Tuesday clash at the Ellgia Stadium, 7.45pm.