Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Taz to the rescue

Last night, as I have already said in the post below Ely City were at March Town United for the Preliminary Round of the Eastern Counties League Cup. Last week I said it was a bargain as we had a bounty of goals and extra time in the game in the FA Cup against Needham Market. We also had a bounty of goals and extra time last night (no surprise on the extra time front, eh?) but as the bloke in the paper shop said this morning it wasn't a good game.

Nothing much happened in the first 20 minutes of the game with neither team seeming like they were particularly up for it. March had a shot stray just wide on 8 minutes and Nick Impey had a decent shot for the Robins on 11, but it all felt a little half-hearted. Ely did get a breakthrough on 20 minutes though when a long free kick from Ely keeper Lee Pacey took a bizarre deflection off a March defenders head sending the ball rocketing in the air and into the back of his own yet. If there had been a cameraman there it would have definitely been a candidate for 'What happened next?'

Going behind seemed to spur the home team on though and 3 minutes later the Hares were on level pegging when a beautifully taken free kick whizzed into the back of the Ely net. This was probably the best period of the game and on 28 minutes Josh Bridgeman scored a brilliant long range goal to put Ely back in the lead.

The period of interest was soon over though and the only two other moments of excitement were on 35 minutes when Pacey was beaten by a March attacker, but he hit the post and a reckless tackle on Austen Diaper on 42 could have easily been a red.

The first 10 minutes of the second half were as uneventful as the first 10 minutes of the first half and then Ely from the Premier started to turn the screw on their first division opponents. On 54 minutes Impey had the ball in the March net, but it was offside and he knew it. Ely also had a gilt edge chance on 59 minutes and the ball was going in, but Ben Lawrence tried to make sure it was going in by helping with his head and inadvertently headed it over. Impey came close again on 62 and then the inevitable happened.

On 77 minutes the Ely defence did a perfect impression of a set of garden furniture and March, against the run of play had their equaliser. We all knew now that the game was going into extra time and despite the unseasonably hot weather both sets of players wanted it over in normal time, but their desperation let them down and neither side could breakthrough despite a decent attempt by Dalby for Ely on 86.

Extra time started off brightly for Ely and the introduction of Taz Chisonga on the wing for ely soon paid dividends. 3 minutes into extra time Taz picked out Diaper with an inch perfect cross for him to put Ely in the lead and then 3 minutes later he had a shot from the left wing that beat the March keeper to make it 4-2. Ely now finally were showing some dominance and could have won 5-2 when they were awarded a penalty at the start of the second period of extra time, however Sam Parkinson's shot bounced off the cross bar and over the wire netting into somebody's garden. That was it 4-2 and a home tie in the next round, but despite the result not the greatest game with Taz's supersub performance probably being the highlight.

A trip to the GER ground

Last night I made my first trip to March Town United's GER Ground. Pictured above is their stand with a couple of players. I took my camera but the light was so bad I had to make do with grabbing this one.

The ground was opened in 1923 and is certainly showing its age, although for someone who has visited numerous lower division East European grounds it held a certain amount of charm and the locals were friendly enough, although not that numerous and there seemed to be more people from Ely there.

The stand was wooden and a bit worm eaten and obviously posed a bit of a fire hazard as there were signs advising against smoking within 40 feet of it. Sitting in the stand for a night game was a bit of a weird experience too, as the lighting in the stand seemed to be stronger than the amp-age of the floodlights, which gave you the feeling that you were watching the game on TV in the dark apart from in reverse.

The facilities were also lacking for fans there was a little kiosk selling tea, chocolate and badges, but no club house, which I thought was compulsory at this level. However in the past they had been able to use the social club over the road, but something happened and now they aren't, so that was your lot, but with a threadbare crowd it didn't really matter. There was also only one toilet (women's) and the Ely players may have felt aggrieved that they got locked out of the dressing room at half-time and had to sit it out on the pitch. They did have a turnstile but I think that we were a bit early and instead a guy came round asking for our £4s and giving out the free programmes. So although I have heard several moans about the GER from ground hoppers and er... Gorleston fans, you have to remember it might be a bit rough and ready and have seen better days, but how many Eastern Counties League clubs charge £4 in and throw in a programme?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Club Focus - March Town United

Tomorrow night we are going on the relatively short trip up to March to see Ely take on March Town United in the Ridgeons League Cup. It will be my first trip to the GER Sports Ground. I have thought about going there before, as it holds a bit of mystery as anyone you meet who has ever been there doesn't have a good thing to say about the place.

The club who currently play in Division 1 of the League can trace their history back to two clubs who operated in March before World War 2; March GER United and March Town. The former of these clubs, United were founded in 1911 and moved to the present ground in 1923. March Town started life out in 1885 and had played at several different venues in the league before joining up with United after the War.

In 1954 The Hares joined the Eastern Counties League and finished in one of their highest positions in that season, 3rd. In 1988 the won the league for the only time in their history up to now, by beating Chatteris Town in front of 2000 fans. March have probably not seen such crowds for a Cambridgeshire Derby up until this season when they drew with Wisbech in front of well over a 1000 fans in the FA Cup before going down to the Fenmen in the replay in front of another bumper crowd.

March won't be going further in the FA Cup this year (and hopefully won't be in the League Cup either, but they have reached the first round proper twice, losing 4-0 to Brentford in 1954 and 1-0 at Swindon in 1979.

Tuesday is the new Saturday

Well, I have had to work a few Saturdays recently, but the Tuesday games have been coming thick and fast and next up is a trip to a ground I haven't been to before, as March Town United take on Ely at their GER Sports Ground.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Six Quid Well Spent

On Tuesday night Ely played Needham Market in the replay of Saturday's FA Cup tie. The weather was atrocious with heavy rain falling throughout the whole game and as is always the case with a midweek Ely cup game the game went into extra-time.

The game on Saturday had been pretty even despite the difference in league standings of the club and the greasy surface was definitely a leveller. The Market Men were the first to draw blood when they struck on 4 minutes. The lead was short-lived though as one minute later Ben Lawrence headed an equaliser.

Ely continued to push forward and look for the lead and Josh Bridgeman came close twice in a minute one from a corner on 15 and another from a defensive error on 16. On 17 minutes a cracking shot from Adam Murray went into the back of the net and the Robins were 2-1 up. The pitch was getting greasier and greasier and mistakes were happening all over the pitch. On 26 minutes the visitors were back in it. There seemed to be a bit of miscommunication between Pacey and Adam Dalby and the unfortunate defender beat his own keeper with a back pass. That wasn't it for the first 15 though because on 28 minutes a Ben Lawrence special long throw, which Needham Market had been fearful of, fell at the far post for Luke Parkinson to tap in and make it 3-2 with less than half an hour gone. There weren't any more goals in the first half and Ely had slightly more possession, but Needham Market had the better chances.

The second half started with Needham Market attacking and desperate to get back in the game. Ely were being more cautious with Chadwick playing on his own up front as he had in the first half on Saturday. On 57 minutes Needham Market came close, but Pacey pulled of a good save . This seemed to wake Ely up a bit and on 61 they hit the crossbar from a crowded shot in the box. The mini revival was short-lived though, and Needham got an equaliser a minute later when Pacey made a pig's ear of a save and the ball spilled through his arms. Needham Market clearly weren't keen on extra time and who could blame them with the rain continuing to pelt down and for the next 10 minutes the Robins were under the cosh. Ely then came back in to the game and Luke Parkinson came close on 82 and a blast from Austen Diaper one minute later was also close. In stoppage time both sides had chances to kill the tie, but neither of them did and the game went into extra time.

The first half of extra time was a bit of a damp squib after the excitement of normal time, but both sets of players were clearly tired. Ely had the ball in the back of the net, but it was clearly offside and nothing much happened. On 113 minutes Napier who had been the star on Saturday for Needham Market got the goal that put ely out of the cup. Ely weren't far off taking the game to penalties as both Murray and Beech hit the bar before the game was over. So near, but yet so far, but what a game!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The FA Cup Continues

Today Ely City took on Needham Market at Needham Market's Bloomfields Ground. The signs before the game didn't really point in Ely's favour. Needham Market apart from being a league above Ely in the Ryman League North have been on fine form, unbeaten in 7 games this season and last week won 7-0; the second time that they have registered this score this season. Ely haven't been playing badly, but despite beating Newmarket on Tuesday the performance wasn't great, and to top it off as Needham wear red they were having to play in the cursed blue away kit.

Ely started the game off well enough, but a quite defensive formation with Chadwick chasing shadows as he was up front on his own. The first chance that Ely had came on 12 minutes when Adam Murray, who was playing in midfield rather than in his usual defensive role, headed a ball on to Chadwick who just missed the target. Needham Market's first real chance came on 19 minutes when a beautifully weighted cross was put just wide. A couple of minutes later Chadders came close again, but he was looking a bit lonely up front on his own and it was clear that he was going to have his work cut out. On 23 minutes though Needham Market took the lead when a well-taken free kick by Deakan Napier flew into the top corner of the goal.

After scoring Needham Market looked like they were going to increase their lead and on 29 minutes Adam Dalby cleared what would have been a certain second goal off the line. Ely were still in the game threw and on 37 minutes Luke Parkinson steamed through the Needham defence but his final shot let him down. The first half then petered out and the idea of playing just one forward seemed to be something that needed reassessing.

Needham Market started the second half with a certain amount of intent and on 50 minutes it looked like they were 2-0 up, but the linesman's flag was up and it was ruled offside. After this though Ely turned in an excellent performance and matched if not bettered Needham for the rest of the second half. Murray came close on 65 minutes. Ely were then further helped on 73 when a Needham defender picked up a second yellow card for a horrendous tackle on Nick Impey. Ely finally got the goal they deserved 10 minutes later when they were awarded a penalty. Sam Parkinson took the role that his brother usually takes as penalty taker as Luke had already been substituted. It was a very self-assured shot that went right into the back of the onion bag. 2 minutes later Ely could have won the tie with the move of the match when Ben Lawrence put in a brilliant cross for substitute Austen Diaper whose powerful header was excellently saved by the Needham keeper. The game finished 1-1 and most of the sizeable Ely following went home happy enough, especially as we now have another game to look forward on Tuesday.

Needham Market FC Stand

Needham Market FC Terrace

Entrance to Needham Market FC

FA Cup continues at Needham Market

Today Ely City took on Needham Market in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup. It was a good day out and Ely had a good away following. Pictures and a report to follow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

El Clasico of the East

.... or something like that.

Last night saw the first local Derby in the Eastern Counties League take place when Newmarket were the visitors to Ely City's Unwin ground. I use the term 'El Clasico', as a bit of a tongue in cheek statement, but in some ways it was an apt description of a performance that probably typified what it's like following Ely City.

The Robins started off in the ascendany against a Newmarket team who are pointless so far this season. Tom Beech had a header cleared off the line on 3 minutes and 6 minutes later Chadwick was clear through and he should have scored but scuffed his chance. Chadders turned to the hero on the 11th minute when he made the best of a defensive error to put the ball in the back of the net.

It looked like it was going to be a walkover for Ely and at 1-0 they continued to press. That said though it also felt like some of the build up play was 'hit and hope' with the best chances coming from set pieces, with a Kenny Smith freekick which was nearly converted by James Wallis on 21 minutes being the pick of the bunch.

Newmarket on the other hand didn't look like creating anything, with ex-Robin Stephen Bell's play on the left wing being an isolated area of creativity. On the 28th minute it definitely seemed as if the Jockeys were dead and buried when Adam Wallis made it 2-0 after beating two defenders to place the ball into the goal with some style. It could have been all over just 5 minutes later when Chris Strecki tousled with a defender in the Newmarket box, it looked like he might have been brought down, but a free kick was given against him. The Ely onslaught continued and shots from Tom Beech on 35 minutes and one from range by Chadwick on 37 came close, but not close enough to extend the lead to 3.

Newmarket got back into the game during the last 10 minutes of the half as Ely started to relax a little and created 2 good chances, which both ending up wide of the mark. So at half time it was Ely 2 Newmarket 0.

The second half started as the first half finished with Newmarket edging their way back into the game during the first 10 minutes. Ely started to wake up a little then though and started to get back into the swing of things. Beech came close on 61 and on 64 he had the ball in the back of the net, but the chance was ruled to be offside. Chadwick then had a header cleared off the line on 67, but at 2-0 Newmarket were still in with a chance.

The Jockeys created a great chance on 74 minutes and finally seemed to be getting back into the game and then on 84 minutes the inevitable happened: after a bit of a defensive mix up Newmarket scored, which led to a nervy last 6 minutes, but luckily Ely weathered the storm.

So that's why it was a classic if not classical Ely performance, a lot of chances against a poor team who with a bit more luck would have been dead and buried by half time and then a late goal for the opposition that gave them a chance and us heart attacks for the last few minutes. A wins a win though, but there will have to be a better performance put in by the team if they want to get past Needham Market in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thetford Town 2 Long Melford 0

Last time I went to a fixture between these two teams was in the Ridgeons League 1 Cup last season and it was a pretty bad tempered affair with friction between the two clubs occurring on the pitch, in the stands, in the club room and on the Internet. Therefore I was expecting a spicy affair yesterday, but this wasn't to be the case.

The first half was a fairly drab affair, which was equally balanced. Thetford looked the stronger side but the best chance fell to Melford who hit the post just before half time. The highlight however was probably the cheap prices in the club house though, as although I've been to Thetford a few times before I haven't partaken of the cheap and good quality ale. They probably have the best and most reasonable priced beer in Thetford.

The second half was a lot better thankfully with Thetford looking a lot more lively. Melford though still looked slugish. In the early encounters Thetford were unlucky not to get a penalty when Dan Grindrod handled the ball from a Steve Davis corner. Grindrod redeemed himself a couple of minutes later when a timely tackle on Matt Dixon stopped what would have been a certain Thetford goal. The home side though were definitely missing the finishing skills of Matt Blake, who was sat in the stand, and who is still surprisingly at the club after being rumoured to be going on to a bigger club since about last April.

Melford gradually got back into the game, but on 73 minutes another Davis corner was met by Matt Howard and although a Melford defender cleared the ball it had already gone over the line. The last 15 minutes were then dominated by Thetford who had chance after chance and on 84 minutes they finished off the job when Matt Dixon, who had the option of getting the ball to either of the subs in space found one of them and I think O'Driscoll provided the final touch to beat the Melford keeper.

Melford had one more chance, hitting the woodwork in stoppage time, but the game finished 2-0 to Thetford.

Picture from the second half

Not a bad picture of Thetford on the attack by Nadiya

Pictures from the Thetford stand

Here's a picture of the main stand at Thetford from a weird angle and the badge that is in the centre of the stand just above where the players enter and leave the dressing room.

Photos from the first half

The kids took the photos at Thetford v Melford. Most of them are by Nadiya. The top one here is Sean's and the bottom by Nadiya.

FA Vase gets underway

Yesterday the FA Vase got underway with the first qualifying round. The competition has seen local side King's Lynn reach the semifinal last year and Ely's Eastern Counties League counterparts, Wroxham reach the final the year before.

Onr thing is for certain Ely won't be walking out at Wembley as they went down away to Clacton. I was at Thetford though for their Vase match against Long Melford. Thetford are still in it, however with the team looking for promotion they might at one point decide to sacrifice the Vase.

Match reports and photos to follow