Relentless attack proves too much as Ely City crash out of FA Vase at first hurdle
- Credit: Archant
Ely City crashed out of the FA Vase after they were made to pay for a lacklustre second-half at their lower league opponents on Saturday.
Following a tight first period, the Robins caved into a relentless attacking display from Downham Town with three goals inside nine minutes in their first qualifying round tie, a deficit Ely were unable to recover from.
Joint-managers Luke McAvoy and Ben Farmer perhaps didn’t expect their team, who went four games unbeaten before their trip to Norfolk, to provide little threat in their 3-0 defeat, which was a tough game to watch for Robins supporters.
The pressure from the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North side started to build once Josh Townshend was forced to deny Joe Jackson having rounded Ely goalkeeper Harry Reynolds on 15 minutes.
Reynolds then dithered on whether or not to claim George Watts-Sturrock’s free-kick, which was flicked wide of the post.
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Chances did come and pass for City, mainly from bursting counter-attacks, but neither striker Ryan Harnwell or wingers Jordan Foster and Luke Young could make them count when needed most.
Tough tackles were in abundance, not to forget a lack of any foothold from either side, but that was about to change after the break.
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As more space gradually became more available, Downham’s threat increased and Reynolds was on hand to produce a remarkable one-handed save to prevent Town taking a 68th-minute lead.
Just a minute later, Ely’s defence allowed Matthew Calvert to weave a left-footed shot into the far corner past a helpless Reynolds, before Simon Bird prodded home from a free-kick two minutes later.
The goals rocked Ely, who tried their utmost to push forwards with the likes of Townshend and Young on either wings, but it seemed inevitable what the final result would be.
Jackson, Downham’s top scorer, sealed Ely’s fate with his third goal in five games in all competitions this season, and a first defeat for their visitors.
Ely progressed to the fifth round proper of the FA Vase in 2016-17, the furthest they’ve ever been in the competition, but on this performance, any chance of progression this year was unlikely.
A taste of defeat may help the Robins learn from their mistakes, but with a tricky FA Cup tie and league games looming large, they will need to learn quickly if they are to succeed.
Ely City: Harry Reynolds; Josh Townshend, Jamie Alsop, George Darling, Tom Williams (C), Nick Harrison, Jordan Foster, Harvey Bullinaria, Ryan Harnwell, Luke Crisp, Luke Young.
Subs used: Alex Brown, Josh Revell, Adam Capel.
Goals: Downham Town - Calvert (69’), Bird (71’), Jackson (78’).
Cautions: Ely City - Bullinaria, Capel.
Referee: Mr Kenneth Reeves.