Chatters sends Robins' faithful into raptures

RIDGEONS LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION KNOCK-OUT CUP SEMI-FINAL Ely City 2 Whitton United 1 (after extra-time) JUST 37 paying customers witnessed Ely City s midweek advance to the final of the First Division Cup at the expense of Whitton United. The visitors took



Ely City 2 Whitton United 1 (after extra-time)

JUST 37 paying customers witnessed Ely City's midweek advance to the final of the First Division Cup at the expense of Whitton United.

The visitors took the lead with a Simon Hyde header after nine minutes, but Robbie Mason's 50th minute equaliser took the tie into extra-time.

Ely boss Dennis Lightning introduced striker Andy Chatters to the fray midway through extra-time, and with just five of the 120 minutes remaining he grabbed the winner for City.

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The Robins will face Halstead Town in the final of the competition, to be played at Mildenhall Town FC on April 23 at 7.45pm.

"It keeps the players focused," said Lightning after the win, "because they all want to play in a cup final."


Gorleston 2 Ely City 3

ELY moved eight points clear of their nearest rivals for second place - Diss Town and Hadleigh United - by avenging their recent 4-2 Ridgeons League Cup defeat at Emerald Park.

City's Mark Paul hit the post with a thunderous drive midway through the first half, but Gorleston hit back as the interval approached and Ely 'keeper Lee Pacey did well to fist away Richie Fruin's effort underneath the bar.

In time added-on, however, Fruin took a free-kick from 30-yards and left Pacey standing for a 1-0 lead at the midway stage.

Gorleston extended their advantage in the 47th minute when Nathan Thompson raced on to Gary Ingram's through ball to score, and Ingram almost increased that lead on the hour mark.

Only 17 minutes remained when the visitors pulled their first goal back, Simon Warren heading in at the far post from an Andy Chatters corner to make it 2-1.

Gorleston held on to their lead until the 86th minute when Ely's Ben Lawrence launched a long throw into the box and Andy Pettit gleefully nodded home the equaliser as the home side failed to cope with the danger.

Then with the last kick of the game - deep into stoppage time - Chatters curled in a corner kick which evaded everyone and found the net for the winner.

"I told the players to hold the ball in the corner!" joked City boss Lightning afterwards, adding: "Thankfully they took no notice of me!"

Lightning has been buoyed by his team's recent results. "It proved to me that the team is ready to finish the job this year," he said. "We staged a remarkable recovery."

Ely - who at the time of writing were on the verge of re-signing Martin Westcott from Haverhill Rovers - travel to Debenham LC on Saturday - one of only two away games remaining for the Robins.

On Bank Holiday Monday they entertain Godmanchester Rovers.



Soham Town Rangers 4 Wroxham 0

SOHAM avenged their last league defeat - 13 matches previously on December 15 - in some style, beating third-placed Wroxham 4-0 at Julius Martin Lane in midweek.

Only 46 seconds had gone when Paul Jones swung a corner into the visiting penalty area, and Gavin Paul deflected the ball into his own goal for Soham's opener.

Man-of-the-match Michael Simpson - badly injured when the teams last met - was then fouled after racing on to Charles Libam's 15th minute knock-on, and Libam sent the goalkeeper Woodcock the wrong way from the spot to make it 2-0.

Only a minute later Jones floated in another corner, and it drifted over Woodcock and inside the far post for Soham's third.

Wroxham's misery was compounded just before half-time, with last man Carver red-carded for pulling back Darren Jimson on his run towards goal.

The visitors re-organised after the break and fared rather better, but Soham grabbed their fourth goal with four minutes remaining.

Jimson's downward header from a Jones cross was saved by Woodcock, but Aaron Turner put the ball back into the danger zone and Scott Johnson scored from close range after Woodcock had parried the ball into his path.

Dereham Town 2 Soham Town Rangers 0

LEAGUE leaders Soham - who had taken 36 points from a possible 42 in 14 unbeaten matches - missed the chance to go 12 points clear at the top of the table as they lost to Dereham.

"In the last 20 minutes of the first half and the first 20 minutes of the second half we dominated," said Rangers manager Ian Benjamin afterwards.

"They (Dereham) never looked like they were going to score at all before the own goal put them in front, and then Robbie Harris grabbed their second (68 minutes). They were quick on the break."

Benjamin's disappointment was partly assuaged by Needham Market's surprise 5-2 home defeat at the hands of 19th-placed Swaffham Town, but he believes his own team are lacking punch at the moment.

"We have been tremendous at the back," said Benjamin, "but this result was coming. We just haven't been firing on all cylinders recently."

Soham travel to Norwich United on Saturday, and then visit CRC in midweek.