Yesterday Ely City took on Deeping Rangers in their second pre-season friendly. Ely were missing several regulars and as well as blooding several new players they also called on a few members of the reserves to swell the ranks, so apart from Chris Sterecki, Adam Murray (who instead of Centre-half was playing up front), Lee Pacey and Ben Lawrence there weren't many familiar faces in the team. One other face who might become familiar is Paul Clayton, who in the report of the previous game was known as Norwich bloke.
For once though the sun was shining, although unlike half the insect life in East Anglia the fans hadn't exactly swarmed to the Unwin. Ely started off as badly as they did on Tuesday against Huntingdon when on 3 minutes the visitors were ahead from a curling header. Unlike on Tuesday Ely couldn't respond straight away, although Adam Murray should have put the Robins on level terms on 6 minutes when he was fed a pass by Clayton. This seemed to spur Ely on and like in the previous game they created chance after chance; the best ones being an excellent save from the Deeping keeper after a header from Nick Impey on 10 minutes and a long range shot from Adam Murray on 29 which went just wide.
Deeping came back and responded with an excellent effort on 30 minutes when they hit the bar and on 32 they were 2-0 up. They were then able to keep Ely at bay until half time and the score remained the same after the break.
Ely started out the second half on the attack and got back in the game when the ball somehow found itself in the back of the net on 48. I'm not sure who scored it, but by now there were a hell of a lot of unfamiliar faces on the pitch. Nevertheless it was a good opening response and we were starting to believe that the Robins might salvage something from the encounter. The glimmer of hope was to be short-lived though because on 52 minutes Deeping had a shot and Chris Sterecki decided to try and punch it out. He didn't. The ball just went into the back of the net. To be honest when he handled it, it looked like it had already crossed the line. The officials disagreed and Chris was given his marching orders and Deeping were awarded a penalty instead of a goal. Pacey saved the penalty, but it was probably one of the most stupid and needless sending offs I have ever seen. Don't forget that I'm a regular at Eastern Counties League football, so I have seen plenty of dodgy red cards.
Anyway, Ely seemed to cope well with 10 men, but the punch had gone out of the attack and more and more reserves were finding themselves on the pitch. Not much else happened, although on 72 minutes the visitors finished off the job and made it 3-1, which is how it ended.
Looking on the bright side, it was a makeshift team and Ely were disappointing in pre-season last year and then went on to have one of their best seasons ever. Next up are Histon and they are promising to bring a strong team, so let's hope that the Robins can also put out a decent team and hopefully put up a decent fight.