Dramatic late winner books spot in final
Ely City 2 Royston Town 1
A 94TH minute goal from Austen Diaper handed Ely a dramatic late win against Royston and set up a dream final against fierce local rivals Soham Town Rangers.
With the game locked at 1-1 and just seconds left of added time, front-man Diaper slipped his marker and poked home amid a gaggle of defenders to send the Unwin Ground in raptures.
The goal, with what was to be the last kick of the match, puts Alan Alsop’s men through to the final of the Cambs Invitation Cup on April 18, where they will face Steve Fallon’s new-look Soham at Cambirdge United’s R Costings Abbey Stadium.
Speaking to the Ely Standard after the match, boss Alsop said: “I think on the strength of our second half performance we deserved it, we were the only side that looked like scoring for most of the second period, despite the fact that Royston were probably the better side in the first half.
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“Our work rate was fantastic, we never stopped chasing and it was the perfect time to score a goal. The lads deserve a big occasion and we will go into the final ready to give them a game.
“They are a league higher than us and we will go into it as underdogs but, with our work rate, they are going to have to be pretty special to beat us.”
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The visitors needed just five minutes to take the lead as Ely were caught cold by Martin Standen, the midfielder producing a superb header at the back post to power past Lee Pacey.
Both sides struggled to make an impression on the game in the ensuing minutes as the two midfields hassle and harried.
Ely’s breakthrough came in the 22nd minute as the referee awarded a penalty for a handball in the box, frontman Richard Chadwick slotting coolly into the bottom corner with the keeper sent the wrong way.
Chadwick’s dipping volley in the 40th minute which slipped narrowly over the bar was the only other chance of note in a tense first half, dominated by the respective defences.
The fraught nature of the match continued into the early stages of the break, but the momentum began to shift midway through the half as Ely began to focus their attacks down the wings.
Led by Nick Impey and Chris Strecki, the Robins began to get on top, with shots from Chadwick and Impey producing comfortable saves from the Royston keeper.
With Lee Pacey largely unoccupied at the other end, Ely grew bolder in attack and were rewarded deep into injury time as, following a poor free-kick, the ball was slipped through to Diaper who dinked past the goalkeeper.