NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Crucial clash for Ely City in their survival battle
- Credit: Archant
Ely City chief Brady Stone is backing his players to produce the right performance in a crucial Saturday showdown.
Third-bottom City host basement side Hadleigh United in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division at Demcom Stadium, 3pm.
Stone's men are seven points clear of their visitors in a season when only the team finishing bottom will be relegated.
"It's a massive game," said Stone. "And it's one we are looking to win.
"We're at home to the bottom team an we know a victory will give us a 10-point cushion over them.
"But, if Hadleigh come here and beat us, they will be within four points and we'll be left looking over our shoulders.
"That's not something we want to happen and it's down to the players to perform.
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"I'm sure they'll do that and hopefully plenty of supporters will come along and get behind us.
"It's likely to be tense and tight, so we have to ensure we are patient and stick to our gameplan.
"The key thing is having a bit more threat in the final third as that's the thing which is letting us down at the moment, but I'm confident we've got players who are capable of scoring and creating goals."
City suffered a third successive defeat when being beaten 2-0 at second-placed Wroxham last Saturday, but Stone was delighted with the efforts of his depleted side against their high-flying Norfolk hosts.
He felt justice was done when Wroxham thumped a harshly-awarded penalty against the bar while City were denied an opener themselves when Steve Holder hit the woodwork from 20 yards.
City then survived a 10-minute spell either side of half-time with 10 players following Ash Walter being sin-binned.
But they fell behind soon after returning to a full compliment of players and Wroxham then hit a second goal to seal the points.
"The league table doesn't lie and Wroxham are clearly one of the best sides in the division," added Stone.
"We almost had a whole team missing but we put in an excellent shift. While we didn't deserve to win the game by any means, losing it was tough to take given how such a depleted side worked so hard.
"I don't want to see players off the pitch, but the sin bin has to be implemented fairly and consistently.
"We lost our captain for 10 minutes of an important game simply for asking the referee a question whereas several incidents of swearing from Wroxham players and their manager weren't punished."
Stone handed debuts to goalkeeper Craig Foxall and midfielder Charlie Cook at Wroxham after they arrived on dual registration deals from Soham Town Rangers and Bury Town respectively.