NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Boss Brady Stone wants his men to be a top-10 hit

Ely City manager Brady Stone wants his side to break into the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division t

Ely City manager Brady Stone wants his side to break into the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division top 10. - Credit: Archant

Boss Brady Stone has set Ely City a top-10 target ahead of the new Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division season.

George Darling is back at Ely City.

George Darling is back at Ely City. - Credit: Archant

The Robins begin the new campaign with back-to-back home clashes. They entertain promoted side Framlingham this Saturday before welcoming Newmarket Town to the Ellgia Stadium on Tuesday.

And Stone is backing his players to rise up the standings after finishing 14th last term.

He said: “First and foremost the min aim for a club with our finances is ensuring we stay up, but myself and Martin (assistant boss, Grey) are really keen to push on.

“We did well for much of last season but we’re hopeful we can climb into the top 10 and have some good cup runs again.

“There’s plenty of continuity with only four lads moving on and three new faces coming in – and the mood in the camp is very good. We’ve not got an easy start by any means, though.

“Framlingham have enjoyed back-to-back promotions and sure they’ll be high on confidence while Newmarket are sure to give us a battle.

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“They’ve had a high turnover of players, but I know their manager well and he will have them set up very direct against us.

“But in an ideal world we can put points on the board early on and get ourselves off to a good start.”

Goalkeeper Harry Reynolds, defender Ollie Brookes and midfielders James Seymour and Josh Sewell are the men to leave Ely this summer.

Evan Jeckells has been drafted in as the club’s new number one while Stone has made two more additions in recent days with defender Adam Dalby and midfielder George Darling arriving.

Dalby was a Robins player as a youngster before representing AFC Sudbury and Newmarket in recent seasons.

Darling represented Ely in the 2016/17 campaign when they reached the fifth round of the FA Vase and now returns after being at Histon last term.

“Both lads bring plenty of experience and that is really valuable given how young our squad is,” added Stone.

“Adam can be one of the best defenders in this league if he gets himself fit after a couple of stop-start seasons.

“I think he has fallen out of love with football to some extent, but hopefully a move to new surroundings will get him going again.

“George is another good addition for us. He is a player with an excellent football brain who will create and score goals.

“We’re hoping to get another attacking player in as well.”

Striker Alex Theobald will miss the opening two league games due to a groin problem while midfielder Sam Goodge and wideman Alex Brown are unavailable.

City’s friendly at March was postponed last Friday after the Fenland area was hit by storms. They completed their pre-season scheduled with a 4-1 win at Lakenheath last night (Tuesday).