Ely City ready for 'tough' derby day battle amid winless run

Ryan Gibbs for Ely vs Norwich United DEC 2021

Ryan Gibbs (centre) scored for Ely City in their 2-2 draw at Long Melford in the Eastern Counties Premier Division. - Credit: Nick Bowman

A typically wintry day to play football was capped off with a frustrating result for Ely City as their rough patch of form continued. 

The Robins went behind to Eastern Counties Premier Division strugglers Long Melford, but clawed their way back to grab a 2-2 draw on Saturday. 

Striker Ryan Gibbs hauled Ely level, before Jordan Foster beat the offside trap to earn a share of the spoils in Suffolk. 

“We knew Melford were going to be fighting for their lives as they’re at the wrong end of the table and they need every point they can get,” Ely joint-boss Luke McAvoy said. 

“We started the game poorly and allowed them to take the lead with an early goal where we haven't cleared the ball properly, which was frustrating.   

“Then for the rest of the first half, it was pretty scrappy with neither side creating much we had one or two half chances.” 

That result ensured Ely’s winless run stretched to four games, their last victory coming against Brantham Athletic in November. 

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In that run, McAvoy has seen his side compete against promotion-chasers Mildenhall Town and Norwich United, and felt Saturday’s result was a fair one. 

“The boys dug in and gave it a good go to try and win the game, but in the end a draw was probably a fair result,” he said. 

“We've had some tough games, but going forwards, we need to get back to basics and doing what we've been good at, which is working hard and making ourselves hard to play against.   

“We feel we've always got goals in the team now, but need to start defending better as a team.” 

Ely’s next outing is against Newmarket Town at the Demcom Stadium this Saturday, 3pm, a team they beat 1-0 in the reverse fixture in October. 

The Jockeys sit four points above Ely in eighth place with three games in hand over the Robins, and come into this derby with five wins from their last eight in all competitions. 

Ash Walter is the only absentee for City owing to suspension, for a game McAvoy knows will be a tough battle. 

“Newmarket will be a very tough game,” he added. 

“A lot of the players know each other out of football, so it's a game they all enjoy and want to get the bragging rights in.  

“We will be ready for a good battle and hopefully it will be a good game with a good crowd.”