NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Holders Ely City suffer shock county cup exit as struggles continue

Ely City chief Brady Stone. Picture: IAN CARTER

Ely City chief Brady Stone. Picture: IAN CARTER - Credit: Archant

Ely City’s reign as Cambs Invitation Cup kings is over.

The Robins lifted the county crown in the last two seasons but fell at the first hurdle this term last night (Tuesday).

They were beaten 2-1 by a Cambridge University Press side who play two levels below them in the Cambridgeshire County League.

City fell behind on the stroke of half-time and then conceded again late in the second half. Substitute Steve Holder halved the Ely arrears but they couldn't claw themselves level.

"It was disappointing to fall at the first hurdle in a competition we have won for the last two years," said Stone. "The fact we went out to a team from two leagues below is even more frustrating."

That surprise cup exit came hot on the heels of a 3-1 defeat at Long Melford in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division last Saturday.

A high-class consolation goal from substitute George Darling in his first appearance of the season after a long injury lay-off was one of few highlights for City, who have now lost four successive games in all competitions.

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"Things have to improve massively," added Stone. "We're not in a very good place at the moment.

"Hand on heart I'm sure exactly what is wrong or how to put it right, but everyone will keep working as hard as possibly can.

"It might well be time where we need to try to shake things up with a few new faces, but that's not easy for us to attract players with our budget."

Midfielder Marcio Pereira has arrived from Lakenheath and made his City debut as a substitute at Long Melford and then started the county cup loss.

City now host Kirkley & Pakefield in the Premier Division this Saturday before welcoming Godmanchester Rovers to the Demcom Stadium on Tuesday in the League Challenge Cup.