NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Striker sees red as Ely City crash to heavy defeat
PUBLISHED: 09:46 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:51 18 March 2019
A moment of madness and a major refereeing error cost Ely City a chance to distance themselves from their ongoing relegation battle.
That was the view of Robins boss Brady Stone after seeing his side crash to a 6-1 home defeat at the hands of Norwich United in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division last Saturday.
Ely saw striker Steve Holder dismissed for a blatant head-butt in the first half, but Stone believed their opponents should also been reduced to 10 men when the game was delicately poised at 1-1. Visiting defender Sam Applegate, who had already been cautioned, scythed down City striker Sam Reed, but referee John Marasca awarded only a free-kick and issued no further punishment.
City had made light of their numerical disadvantage to hit the front through Ash Walter in the 41st minute after an Alex Theobald effort was cleared off the line, but that advantage was quickly wiped out before City conceded five further goals in the second half.
“It’s always hard when you’ve got 10 men, but the referee should have evened the game up,” Stone fumed. “When the Norwich number four made that tackle at 1-1, they should have been down to 10 men - simple as that.
“It would have been a different game at 10-v-10, but two minutes later they scored to go ahead and then took that same player off.
“The referee got our decision right, though. Holder had to be sent off. He knows he’s done wrong and he’s let the team down.
“I’m disappointed he did it because when you’re in a situation where we need the points there’s nothing worse than going down to 10 men.
“To be honest it kicked us into life a bit and we got ahead, but it’s a massive concern that we don’t know how to defend leads.
“I don’t know if it’s because we’re inexperienced or we’re frightened when we go in front. I haven’t got the answers at the moment.
“It doesn’t really matter if we lost 1-6 or 0-1, though. We haven’t got any points.
“We’ve got a hard run-in, so we can either fight and stick together, or we can crumble like we did and go down.”
Ely remain one place and two points above the relegation zone. They play five of the current top seven sides in their remaining six league outings.
City are without a fixture this Saturday and return to action against mid-table FC Clacton at home on March 23.
Stone has signed defender Adam Capel on a dual registration deal from Cambridge City for the rest of the season. He also had a spell with the Robins last season.