On Tuesday night Ely took on Royston in the semifinal of the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. Ely might be top of the Eastern Counties, but Royston are top of the Southern Midland League and are well in control at the top. Added to that they swatted aside Thetford in the FA Vase earlier this season, so it was never going to be the easiest of games for the Robins.
In fact things got off to a pretty poor start with Royston's big centre half scoring from a corner after just 3 minutes. It was just the wake up call that Ely needed and they started to press as they had to get back in the game. Unfortunately for most of the opening period they managed to combine some slick passing with some woeful passing. They did finally get back on level terms on 21 minutes when Ben Lawrence was caught in the face by a stray boot and the Robins were awarded the penalty. Richard Chadwick then stepped up to strike his second penalty home in 3 days.
Royston came back at Ely, but were clearly not used to losing and started to get a bit mardy. The game then settled down a bit, but neither team created too much in front of goal and the half ended with the teams on level terms.
Ely started the second half strongly and dominated the first third of the second half, however Chris Sterecki blasted over the best chance on 59 minutes. Royston then got back in the game and it evened out a bit.
The last 20 minutes looked destined to go to extra time with the creative spark draining out of Ely and Royston being minimised to hoping to hit them on the break.
Things were about to get better and as the match drifted into the 6th and last minute of stoppage time a through ball found Austin Diaper who squeezed the ball past the keeper from a tight angle into the back of the net. What a week he has had! First his heroics as stand in goalie at Yarmouth and then a stoppage time winer to fire Ely into the final where they willtake on Wisbech or Soham at Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium.