NON-LEAGUE: Ely City hail hat-trick hero after being basement boys to boost survival hopes

Ely City striker Harry French (left) and boss Luke McAvoy (right). Picture: DAN MASON

Ely City striker Harry French (left) and boss Luke McAvoy (right). Picture: DAN MASON - Credit: Archant

Boss Luke McAvoy hailed hat-trick hero Harry French after Ely City boosted their survival hopes by securing Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division success last Saturday.

French did the majority of the damage as the third-bottom Robins roared to a 4-1 victory against basement side Gorleston at the Demcom Stadium.

French pounced on a defensive mix-up to provide the only goal of the first half before doubling the City lead in the second half.

An own goal allowed Ely to ease further clear before French completed his treble to seal a second consecutive victory after winning at Thetford the previous Saturday.

Gorleston grabbed a late consolation but that was only a minor irritation on a day when City eased seven points clear of the visitors.

Only the team finishing bottom is certain to be relegated this season, but both Gorleston and second-bottom Hadleigh have games in hand on McAvoy's men.

The City boss said: "Harry is a top man. We were lucky to get him as he approached us.

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"He doesn't drive so gets himself to games and training by either taxi or train

"He is so committed and works so hard, and deserves all the success. He is desperate to do well and has a lot of potential."

City were also reliant on a fine performance from another Harry - goalkeeper Reynolds - against Gorleston.

The Robins number one made fine saves in both halves of a game which was considerably more difficult than the final scoreline might suggest.

"Gorleston started the game much better than we did and Harry kept us in the game with three or four really good saves," added McAvoy.

"It was one of those days where things weren't going right for us, but we stuck at it and managed to get in front at the perfect time just before the break.

"Gorleston were also sharper and created more chances than us in the first part of the second half and Harry again had to come up trumps.

"After that we changed things a little bit and got a bit more control in the midfield which made a difference to the game. Once we were on top, we played some good stuff.

"We knew the fixtures against Thetford and Gorleston were two in which we had to pick up results and they are massive wins for us.

"But we know we can't relax at all and have to keep striving to earn as many points as we can."

A run of three successive away games lies ahead for City. They go to fourth-placed Stanway Rovers this Saturday before visiting second-placed Norwich United on February 22 - two fixtures McAvoy described as 'free hits'.

The month then concludes with a crunch trip to Hadleigh on February 29.