Late penalty seals CIC Cup for Ely

Ely City 3 Soham Town Rangers 2

LATE drama at The Abbey Stadium saw Ely snatch victory in the Cambs Invitation Cup final over fierce rivals Soham on Wednesday night.

With the game drifting towards extra time, and with Ely having squandered a 2-0 lead, a nudge in the back from Michael Simpson sent Ely’s Adam Murray tumbling, with the referee quick to point to the spot.

Under immense pressure, and with hundreds of fans looking on, midfielder Luke Parkinson – who had already missed three penalties during the season - stepped up to slot home past Dan Bircham.

The win sent the Robins fans into raptures and the final whistle blew just a few minutes later to seal a nail-biting – and local bragging rights – for Alan Alsop’s Robins.

In contrast to the frenetic final minutes, the start of the match was a predictably nervy affair as both teams tested and probed their counterparts.

Dubi Ogbonna saw a shot slice wide from 18 yards and Dan Cotton’s cross-cum-shot brought a good save from Lee Pacey as the Greens enjoyed the better of the exchanges.

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Simpson went closes to putting Soham ahead after 20 minutes only for his well-directed header to be scrambled clear from the line but, with 25 minutes gone, it was Ely who moved into the lead.

Chris Sterecki’s superb run from right back took him to the edge of the area where he cut back superbly for Richard Chadwick to slot home from five yards.

Ely were denied a second goal just five minutes later after Austen Diaper was adjudged offside but it mattered little to the Robins as the second goal came with 35 minutes on the clock, Josh Bridgeman finishing superbly from 15 yards after another Sterecki run and cross.

With Ely seemingly in full control of the match however, Soham were handed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when Dubi Ogbonna challenged for a high ball with Robins keeper Lee Pacey, forcing the stopper to drop the ball into his path for an easy finish.

The Robins could have made it 3-1 just minutes after the restart but Parkinson’s smashed shot from 10 yards cannoned back off the bar and away to safety.

It was Soham’s turn to have a goal chalked off on the hour mark as Ogbonna was adjudged after offside after collecting a ball that had clattered off the bar.

The warning signs were there for Ely as Soham built their momentum but there was little they could do to stop Simpson heading the Greens level in the 68th minute.

Soham had a couple of excellent chances to move into the lead in the ensuing minutes as Ely began to tire but some wasteful finishing and some good work from Pacey kept the scores level.

With both sets of fans resigned to extra time however, the match was turned on its head with that late penalty.