Ely City 0-0 Saffron Walden Town: Plenty of chances but the Robins draw a blank on the opening day

Ely City striker Alex Theobald suffered an injury scare in the Robins' 0-0 draw with Saffron Walden

Ely City striker Alex Theobald suffered an injury scare in the Robins' 0-0 draw with Saffron Walden Town last night. - Credit: Archant

Ely City held Saffron Walden to a 0-0 opening day draw on Tuesday evening - but the score line didn’t reflect the amount of action that occurred throughout the 90 minutes.

Both sides had their fair share of chances - most coming in the first half - with Saffron Walden forward Charlie Portway having the best effort. His effort from six yards struck the underside of the crossbar, but didn’t cross the line.

Ely had a bright start in their first league game at the newly-named Ellgia Stadium. There were starts for a few new faces as well with Nick Heap, Ryan Williams and Josh Williams all making their first league appearances for the club.

Heap, who had been troublesome for Saffron Walden from the get-go, created Ely’s first big chance just eight minutes in. Beating his man for pace, Heap’s cross was almost turned into his own net by Bloods captain Spike Bell.

Walden replied with a fierce counter attack just seconds later, this time with their own number seven. After beating Robins full-back Daniel Jeffrey with skill, James Crane sent in a cross that Harry Reynolds parried out to Bloods striker Portway, who was six-yards out. His effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar, and unfortunately for the visitors didn’t find its way over the goal line.

Robins forward Alex Theobald had two great chances in quick succession. Pouncing on a loose ball from 18-yards out, he forced a great save from Niel O’Sullivan. Theobald then converted a header from Heap’s cross, but it was deemed offside by the officials.

After the break, a lack of attacking output from Ely forced a triple change, with Lewis Hook, Tom Thurlborn and Sam Reed all coming on.

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The three substitutes impacted the game positively for the Robins. Hook distributed the ball well in the middle of the pitch, whilst Thurlborn and Reed were constant threats up front.

But it was midfielder Ashley Walter who unexpectedly had Ely’s best chance to break the deadlock. O’Sullivan’s poor clearance reached Walter who was 40-yards out, and his lobbed attempt silenced the home crowd for a moment until it landed on the roof of the net.

Reed had two chances to steal in the game in the final few minutes, but he was denied by both the side netting and a fantastic O’Sullivan save.

The point places Ely in a respectable seventh place in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division. A home cup tie this coming weekend against Holbeach United is followed by an away visit to Histon in the league on Tuesday August 8.

Ely City: Harry Reynolds, Daniel Jeffrey, Jamie Alsop (C), Liam Griffin, Tom Williams, Josh Williams, Nick Heap (Lewis Hook, 70), Ash Walter, Ryan Williams (Tom Thulborn, 55), Alex Theobald, Craig Neal (Sam Reed, 70)

Saffron Walden: Niel O’Sullivan, Spike Bell (C), Ronnie Ledwith (Richard Chadwick, 75), Oliver Emsden, Julian Simon-Parson, James Ferguson, James Crane, Joe Murphy, Graeme Turner, Charlie Portway, Flynn Tarman