NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Ely City left to rue missed opportunities after Godmanchester Rovers stalemate

Striker Harry French (left) starred in joint-manager Luke McAvoy's (right) first home game in charge

Striker Harry French (left) starred in joint-manager Luke McAvoy's (right) first home game in charge. Picture: DAN MASON - Credit: Archant

Star forward Harry French’s first-half equaliser fired Ely City closer to safety in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division, although it was a case of missed opportunities.

French scored his second goal in as many games under the management of Luke McAvoy and Ben Farmer, who had to settle for a 1-1 stalemate with Godmanchester Rovers in their first home game in charge.

The point lifted Ely into 18th spot, three points above bottom side Hadleigh United who occupy the only relegation place.

This was not a game for pretty football, but one that two out-of-form teams wanted to win on a damp surface at the Demcom Stadium.

Godmanchester looked liked their former selves in the opening stages, and deservedly hit the front on 10 minutes with a touch of intricate build-up play.

Captain Mike Hyem found full-back Reece King after a bursting run through midfield, who had time to deliver a menacing cross for Austen Diaper to poke under the helpless Harry Reynolds.

That move was not a reflection of a team that have lost their way this season having pushed for the title last term, nor a side that have won six from 16 away games in all competitions so far.

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Unfortunately for them, this was the moment that Ely needed to grow into this contest and their just reward came from a simple source.

One long ball from defence proved too tricky for the visiting defence and French was on hand to slot past goalkeeper Niall Conroy, having previously struck a post.

A second-half resurgence perhaps should have caused more damage for Ollie Drake's men, as the Robins looked almost certain to taste victory for the first time since November.

Substitute Marcio Pereira nearly made an instant impact, as did youngster Mitch Drewitt, but neither could capitalise on a succession of whipped crosses towards the back post.

There was a confidence about Ely's style of play that was not seen before the break, although this positivity could have been so easily extinguished.

Jordan Patrick, who recently signed for Godmanchester, had acres of space to gain the plaudits after being teed up by fellow substitute Tom Wakley, but blazed horribly over from point-blank range.

This nearly proved costly for the visitors as Conroy then produced a super double save to deny a wicked curling strike from finding the top corner.

But despite the spoils being shared, it was a promising sign that Ely are more than capable of competing at step five with fresh faces at the helm.

Ely City: Harry Reynolds; Branham Ince (sub Marcio Pereira, 58'), Charlie Tunnell, Ash Walter ©, Luke Crisp, Joe Brannan, Matthew Simpson, Harvey Bullinaria, Harry French, Harry McGregor (sub Ben Harnwell, 90'+1), Mitch Drewitt (sub Josh Lowe, 83').

Unused subs: George Darling, Michael Harvey.

Goals: Ely City - French (30').

Godmanchester Rovers - Diaper (10').

Cautions: Ely City - Brannan (foul), Bullinaria (foul).

Attendance: 83.

Referee: Mr Kevin Saunby.