Brady Stone ‘over the moon’ as Ely City take another big leap towards their Wembley dream

Ely City celebrate one of their goals in their 3-2 success over Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Melissa

Ely City celebrate one of their goals in their 3-2 success over Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Melissa Page - Credit: Archant

Brady Stone says he is the proudest man in Ely – and it is easy to understand why the Ely City boss is so happy.

In true Roy of the Rovers style, the Robins overcame injury, a bobbly playing surface and fielding a reserve defender in goal to see off Welwyn Garden City 3-2 and seal their place in the last 32 of the FA Vase last Saturday, leaving Stone beaming.

“I’m over the moon,” he said.

“We went into the game without a goalkeeper and with four first-team players missing but I felt confident.

“You always have a bit of doubt going in with a weakened team but the boys put in a massive performance.”

Ely dominated the first period in Hertfordshire and were rewarded five minutes before the break through George Darling’s sweetly-struck drive.

The hosts levelled from the spot, but Craig Neal and Kelvin Enaro sealed a memorable afternoon for the club with quickfire strikes in the second period.

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Welwyn grabbed a consolation after the hour, but Ely held on to equal their best-ever performance in the competition, and Stone was quick to praise his cup heroes – including make-shift goalkeeper, Dean Grogan.

“I thought we were the better team in the first half but they got their goal – which I didn’t think was a penalty – but we kicked on in the second and got a deserved win,” Stone said.

“We knew Dean could play in goal as he did when he was younger.

“He hadn’t played in goal for three years before the game so we got him in to train on Thursday and he didn’t put a foot wrong.

“We had 50 to 60 fans there again and the noise was absolutely unbelievable.”

The Robins are now just five wins away from a dream outing at Wembley – but standing in their way is Midland Football League Premier Division side Sheepshed Dynamo.

The Leicestershire outfit needed extra-time to get through their third round tie, but Stone says his Ely men won’t get ahead of themselves and remain underdogs for the clash at the Unwin on January 7.

“We wanted an away trip as we’ve done well away from home in the competition and it’s a good day out for the fans but it’ll be nice to have a game at home,” said Stone.

“It’s not going to be an easy game as we’re in the last 32 and it’s never easy at that stage of the competition.

“They’re 33/1 to win it which is better odds than us so we’ll go into it as underdogs again.”

But for now, the Robins boss is fully-focussed on their next fixture, which sees Brantham Athletic visit the Unwin in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division on Saturday (3pm).

The Robins are languishing in the relegation places having not won a league match since the beginning of October, but Stone believes that his men can survive the dreaded drop if they show a more ruthless streak in front of goal.

“The performance in the league hasn’t been that bad; we’re playing as well as we are in the Vase but we’re not taking our chances,” he said.

“We took our chances on Saturday and won and played well against Felixstowe & Walton United but didn’t take our chances and lost the game.

“If we can keep playing as well as we have been in the last month then I’m sure we’ll be fine.”