Robins off the ball on opening day as unbeaten home streak ends

Luke McAvoy and Ben Farmer of Ely City FC

Ely City joint-bosses Ben Farmer (left) and Luke McAvoy oversaw a 1-0 defeat to Woodbridge Town in the Robins' opening Eastern Counties League Premier Division match this season. - Credit: Daniel Mason

A lack of match sharpness and composure proved pivotal in Ely City’s opening day defeat. 

That’s the view of joint-manager Luke McAvoy, who saw his side kick off the new Eastern Counties League Premier Division season with a 1-0 loss to Woodbridge Town on July 31. 

Some of the Robins’ regulars, as well as new signings, were unavailable but McAvoy does not want to use this as an excuse. 

“It was a game we felt was winnable, especially at home and we’ve got a lot of injuries at the minute, too,” he said. 

“We’ve only played three, four decent pre-season games but never with the same squad. We feel the lads are fit but they’re not sharp.” 

Saturday’s defeat was Ely’s first in the league at the Demcom Stadium in six games, having finished fifth during a season that finished in December due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. 

McAvoy and joint-boss Ben Farmer have made some additions to last season’s squad, including the return of Ash Walter from Soham Town Rangers and forward Jack Chandler from Godmanchester Rovers. 

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But despite these additions, something was lacking for City. 

“It was always going to be a hard game. I’m not using injuries as an excuse, but we’re missing some big players,” McAvoy said. 

“Saturday was frustrating. We weren’t sharp enough and didn’t create enough.   

“I feel we’re probably going to need a couple of weeks to get our sharpness through having the disjointed pre-season. I think once we get that, we’ll be alright.” 

Striker Ryan Harnwell went off due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury while Josh Townshend rolled his ankle as Ely’s absentee list grows. 

New arrival Jamie Thurlbourne was one not to feature in Ely's 4-2 defeat at Mildenhall Town on Tuesday, while Chandler could also play this weekend after suspension.

“I think once we get a couple of games down and get these boys back that are missing, we’ll be a much better side,” said McAvoy. 

“When the season finished, we were fifth in the league and a lot of teams may have been shocked, thinking we probably punched above where we should be. 

 “For us to progress, we do need to get better in the final third and be braver going forward, more creative and finding ways to score more goals.” 

Ely visit Fakenham Town in an FA Cup extra preliminary round tie on August 7, for the right to play Bury Town two weeks later. 

Ely City Reserves have appointed ex-Cottenham boss Chris Hancock as manager, alongside assistants Charlie Brown and Nick Haycraft for the new season.