Battling Ely City fall just short as three-year cup reign ends
- Credit: Nick Bowman
Ely City’s three-year reign in the Cambs Invitation Cup has come to an end, but they most certainly put up a fight.
Ash Walter fired the Robins back on level terms, but a dominant second half from Cambridge United Development saw them run out 2-1 winners at the Abbey Stadium on Tuesday night.
“The boys didn’t give up and I can’t fault them for effort,” Luke McAvoy, Ely joint-boss, said,
“They know they can get something out of these games, but on the night, United were too good.”
Goalkeeper Harry Reynolds was called into action on several occasions during an entertaining first half, when Saleem Akanbi stroked home on 19 minutes.
Walter’s thunderous volley then levelled the score 10 minutes later in an even contest.
But United’s persistence after half-time paid off when midfielder Kai Yearn’s 71st-minute strike found the top corner past a helpless Reynolds.
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“We created the odd half chance, but second half we hardly got a touch,” admitted McAvoy.
“They upped a gear and once it went 2-1, we wanted to stay compact and try get something on the break.”
Ely, who last won the cup in 2019 before a two-season break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, responded strongly after United’s first goal but were resorted to defending deep for much of the second half.
Talisman Ryan Gibbs went closest for City, backed by a strong following, when his shot was blocked by a combination of defenders and woodwork on 80 minutes.
It was a much-improved Robins performance in contrast to last Saturday’s 2-2 league draw with Whitton United, something McAvoy does not quite understand why.
“I think it’s when we play the lesser teams; I don’t know if it’s attitude, but we end up drawing or losing,” he said.
Ely now aim for a strong finish to the Eastern Counties Premier Division season, starting with a clash against Walsham-le-Willows at the Demcom Stadium on Friday night, 7.45pm.
It has been a disappointing campaign for his 12th-placed side, but McAvoy will take belief from an upbeat cup final outing.
“We know who we are and where we should be; we wanted to punch above our weight,” he added.
“It was good to play in the final; shame we couldn’t give a better performance but we will try to stay positive.”
Ely City: Harry Reynolds; Josh Revell, Adam Capel, Dom Hunt, Tom Williams (C), Taylor Hastings, Luke Crisp, Ash Walter, Ryan Gibbs, Ben Tait (sub Callum Chambers-Shaw), Luke Young (sub Jordan Foster).
Unused subs: Louie Bull, Louis Jenkins, Alex Theobald.
Cautions: Ely City – Williams, Walter.
Man of the match: Harry Reynolds.
Referee: Mr Thomas Kelly.