Ely second-string hope 'free hit' can land summer silverware

Ely City at Downham Town in FA Vase

None of Ely City FC's teams have been in action this year, but that will change when the reserves and A team take part in the Cambridgeshire County League's cup competitions. - Credit: Daniel Mason

Ely City’s reserve team were staring down the barrel of relegation, but now, they are gunning for glory in what their joint-manager described as a “free hit”. 

City were battling against the drop in the Cambridgeshire County League’s top flight, despite recording some admirable results against higher-placed sides. 

But the team now have brighter aims after opting to take part in the Cambs League’s ‘Champions League’ styled cup competition after the 2020-21 campaign was cut short earlier this month. 

“We were competitive; they (the players) were starting to take to my ideas and we were showing some improvement as the season went on,” Paul Dockerill, joint-manager, said. 

“I think we were at the point we’d turn a corner, so I’m looking forward to this cup competition.” 

Ely’s second-string are placed in Group C of the Senior Cup as they prepare to face fellow step seven outfit Hemingfords United on April 10, 3pm. 

City will also do battle with nearby Witchford 96, as well as Senior A and B sides Soham Town Rangers Reserves, Bluntisham Rangers, Wisbech St Mary Reserves and Somersham Town, as they bid to progress into the quarter-finals. 

“I look at our group and it’s a group we can definitely get out of,” Dockerill said. 

“It’s a free hit to try different things without the pressure of relegation, and I think the safety aspect will be fine. 

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“We’re playing some teams from a lower division, so hopefully we’ll have more of the ball than we would against some of the Kershaw Premier teams.” 

Ely City Reserves joint-boss Paul Dockerill

Paul Dockerill (pictured) became joint-manager of Ely City Reserves in July 2020, who play in the Cambridgeshire County League's top flight. - Credit: Ely City FC

Dockerill said he has learnt some key points since taking over last July, including working with a group of young players as opposed to more experienced ones he had at former club Whittlesford United. 

Ely’s reserve team have an approximate average age of 20-years-old, but that will be no barrier in their quest for silverware. 

“They haven’t got the pressure of relegation; they can go out and enjoy themselves,” Dockerill added. 

“I think the average age of my player at Whittlesford was 31, 32, so it’s a very different mentality at Ely. 

“The potential in our side is unbelievable and if I didn’t think we’d have an opportunity to win it, I couldn’t see the point in entering.” 

Ely City’s ‘A’ team start their Intermediate Cup campaign at Exning United also on April 10.