NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Disappointment but pride for Ely City chief ahead of a ‘massive’ fixture

Ely City manager Brady Stone. Picture: IAN CARTER

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

Ely City chief Brady Stone has been left with mixed emotions after two dramatic games in their survival battle.

City suffered an agonising 2-1 defeat at Thetford in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division last Saturday after conceding two late goals.

And Stone’s men then allowed a two-goal advantage to slip in a thrilling 3-3 home draw with Stowmarket on Tuesday night.

And while the Robins boss is understandably frustrated to have seen precious points slip away, he is full of praise for the attitude and application of his young side.

Stone said: “We could easily have picked up six points which would have been a huge help in keeping us up.

“The fact we conceded late goals in both games is definitely down to tiredness and probably a little bit of inexperience, but I can’t fault the work ethic or desire of the players.

“If we repeat the level of the performance we produced in these two games for the rest of the season, we should stay up.”

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Sam Reed fired Ely ahead just before the hour at Thetford, but they were pegged back in the 86th minute before the contest was settled by the hosts in the third minute of stoppage time.

The Robins also hit the front against Stowmarket when Josh Lowe struck in the 29th minute, but the visitors quickly responded.

Lowe and substitute Joe Brannan then found the net for City in the second half with those goals sandwiching the dismissal of a Stowmarket player.

The visiting side made light of their numerical disadvantage to claw their way level before the crossbar denied City skipper Jamie Alsop, whose fine set-pieces had created all three of his side’s goals, a late winner.

Stone added: “Conceding the second goal in stoppage time at Thetford was an absolute sickener, but the lads showed great character not to let the disappointment affect them against Stowmarket.

“It was a blow not to hold on to a two-goal lead against 10 men, but Stowmarket are a quality side and the two draws we’ve had against them this season could prove to be really important results.”

Teenage duo Louie Diver, a defender, and midfielder Jordan Johnson both made their debuts at Thetford and again played against Stowmarket.

Ely now sit two points above the relegation zone with seven games to go. They are back on home turf this Saturday for a crucial clash against Norwich United, 3pm.

“It’s a massive game and one we have to win,” continued Stone.

“We’ve got nine games to go and we’ll pick up as many points as we can. If we go down, we’ll go down fighting.”

Midfielder Lee Reed will feature in the Robins squad for the first time in three months after a spell out due to work commitments.

Striker Alex Theorbald and defender Daniel Jeffrey could also be involved after missing the last two games due to injury.

Sam Reed is a doubt with a knee problem picked up at Thetford.