Bad start that proved costly

PUBLISHED: 10:51 21 June 2007 | UPDATED: 12:32 04 May 2010

PART FIVE DIVISION 2B Ely City A Home W11 D1 L1 F46 A20 Away W8 D2 L3 F35 A24 Pts 60 (3rd of 14) An exciting climax to the 2B promotion race saw only one point separating the top three sides in this section. Unfortunately, it was Ely City A who just

PART FIVE

DIVISION 2B

Ely City A

Home W11 D1 L1 F46 A20

Away W8 D2 L3 F35 A24

Pts 60 (3rd of 14)

An exciting climax to the 2B promotion race saw only one point separating the top three sides in this section.

Unfortunately, it was Ely City A who just missed out on the honours behind champions Longstanton and runners-up Wisbech St Mary.

In reality, Ely were arguably the best side in the division, and but for losing their first three league games, they would have been crowned champions with room to spare.

City's first three league fixtures were all away from home, resulting in narrow defeats at Witchford '96, Bluntisham Rangers Reserves and Longstanton.

Perhaps the most damaging of those was the 3-1 setback at Bluntisham, who won only one other game and finished well detached at the bottom of the table.

After losing 5-2 at home to Griffin Park in the cup, Ely displayed a level of form that was largely superior to all of their rivals.

In fact they lost only one more league game all season, a 3-1 home defeat by local rivals Sutton United, which effectively ended their challenge for a top-two finish.

They recovered to win their remaining nine fixtures - including a revenge 3-1 victory at Sutton - but even those 27 points proved insufficient in the long run.

City were left needing an impossibly big win in their final outing against Newmarket White Lion (they won 7-6), or hoping that Wisbech would somehow slip up in their final game against Lode (but they didn't).

The team can only reflect on their first three league outings, and weep.

Sutton United

Home W8 D0 L5 F52 A30

Away W9 D1 L3 F43 A21

Pts 52 (4th of 14)

Sutton, the only team to defeat City on their own ground and alongside Ely, the only team to defeat champions Longstanton on their own territory, otherwise let themselves down with some inexplicable results.

The early-season 3-2 defeat at Witchford '96 was not catastrophic - most teams lost there - but some inexcusable results followed.

Milton Reserves (eventually fourth from bottom) beat them 3-2, and Stretham Hotspurs (third from bottom) won 4-2 at Sutton.

Both of those defeats were avenged, but three successive losses in April effectively drew the sting out of United's promotion challenge.

Four successive wins guaranteed them a top four finish, but a final game 5-4 defeat at home to relegated Isleham United left Sutton further adrift of the top three than they really ought to have been, considering they beat Longstanton three times in four league and cup meetings.

They reached the final of the Junior Cup after disposing of local 1B rivals and Creake Charity Shield winners, Littleport Town Reserves at the last four stage, but found Cambridge University Press Reserves just too strong in the final.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sutton should be playing at a higher level. It's perhaps simply a case of when.

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