In a list of the all time greatest games in the Eastern Counties is a match from 1960 where Ely City beat Great Yarmouth 9-5. I didn't expect this game to be a classic that would go down in the history books, but it was definitely a far better match than I had anticipated.
Around the step 5 clubs over the last few weeks there has definitely seemed to have been a feeling that the season was already finished and that it was time to play out the last few games before the summer break, well at least at the clubs where the teams weren't involved in promotion or relegation battles. However, today saw both teams put up a spirited display that made the match look like it mattered.
The Ely players turned up at the ground in fancy dress, but their good humour seemed to dispate somewhat once they entered the pitch. The opening encounters didn't create any real chances, but both teams were getting stuck in. After some bad tempered arguements between the players Ely were the first team to make the breakthrough. On 27 minutes the young Yarmouth goalkeeper, Jake Jessup did well to save a stinging shot from Nick Impey, but Josh Bridgeman was on hand to follow up and put the ball in the back of the net. This seemed to galvanise Ely into action and 4 minutes later the Robins had doubled their lead when Adam Murray headed the ball into the back of the Yarmouth net beating everybody else to the ball in a crowded six yard box.
Despite being two down after half an hour Yarmouth weren't about to lie down and although Ely had a couple of chances in the remaining quarter of an hour of the first half Yarmouth were starting to get on top, but some resolute defending by Adam Dalby and Adam Murray meant that Lee Pacey wasn't too busy in the Ely goal.
The second half started rather slowly with Yarmouth in the ascendancy. Unlike in the first half the Ely defence seemed to be a bit at sixes and sevens and Lee Pacey was made to be a bit busier, but he always looked like keeping the Bloaters at bay. Ely on the other hand didn't have a meaning ful shot in the second half until 63 minutes when Adam Murray left defence and looked like heading another goal in, however the keeper managed to keep it out again. Four minutes later Chadwick sent in a great cross for Bridgeman, but he was unable to connect with the chance. if he had it would have been 3-0 and game over. At least this seemed to wake Ely up though and both sides had a few chances, although none of them really worrying either of the goalkeepers, both of whom were on decent form. That was until 85 minutes when Chadwick was brought down in the box. It didn't look like he would have scored and for this reason the defender didn't even get a booking. To be honest it looked like a penalty, but a fairly soft one. Anyway, we weren't holding our breath that Ely would score because they have been woeful from the spot all season. This time it was Luke Parkinson who had a go from the spot and unlike his team mates over the past few months he remained composed and put the ball in the back of the net to make the score Ely 3 Yarmouth 0.
You might have expected Ely to play out the last 5 minutes and not take any risks, but this is Ely City and not Real Madrid, just two minutes after converting the penalty Yarmouth were given the chance to score from the spot. Ben Lawrence, who was on as a substitute was judged to have pulled down one of the Yarmouth forwards. Again it looked like a bit of a soft penalty, but he was the last man and was therefore given his marching orders. Yarmouth's Diego Forlan look-a-like remained composed and the score was now 3-1.
Luckily, there were no more slip ups and the game and season finished with Ely claiming a home victory. There was a really good team spirit today and hopefully they can take this over to the next season.