Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ely Bugbrooke up in the cup

Last night Ely took on Bugbrooke St.Michael's in the FA Cup. After reportedly being unlucky to win on Saturday we had hoped that they could finish off the job last night. Things were to go differently to how we had hoped though.

Ely started off brightly enough, but it was Bugbrooke who created the first chance on 10 minutes when they missed an absolute sitter. Ely came back though and on 12 minutes Josh Curry hit the bar. On 17 minutes Chadders came close, but this time the ball went just over.

It was Bugbrooke who took the lead though when on 21 minutes a looping header caught Pacey out and the Badgers went one up. Bugbrooke almost came close to doubling their lead just one minute later, but this time Pacey saved brilliantly to deny the visitors. For the rest of the half Ely battled for the equaliser, but never really came close to equalising. In fact Bugbrooke came closest in the last minute of the half when they again missed a real sitter.

Ely started the second half strongly, but Bugbrooke soon extended their lead on 50 minutes and it looked all over. After this the visitors got 9 men behind the ball with 2 forwards waiting to hit Ely on the break. This was perhaps not the best tactic though, as Lewis Thomson headed home to half the deficit on 64 minutes with a good solid header. Bugbrooke stuck to their guns though with solid defending, and despite a flurry of attacks Ely didn't come close to an equaliser. We didn't give up hope though as Ely usually manage to turn cup games into extra time if they are winning or losing with a couple of minutes on the clock. This time it wasn't to be though, as with a couple of minutes left Bugbrooke extended their lead to 3-1. The goal wasn't scored without controversy, as the Ely players had stopped playing after the linesman had flagged for what looked like a definite offside. The referee disagreed though and allowed the goal, which Ely hadn't even tried to prevent to stand.

Monday, August 27, 2012

South East Combination League

The South East Combination is the women's league that Cambridge Women who have recently settled at Ely's Unwin ground play in. The league is at the fourth level of women's football and is one of four combination leagues. The others being the South West, Midlands and Northern. The league which was formed in 1998 feeds directly into the Premier League Southern Division. The South East Combination is fed into by the Eastern Region League and the London and South East League.

The league is made up of 12 clubs. Along with Crystal Palace and Cambridge who we saw yesterday there are 10 other clubs: Arlesey Town, Brentwood Town, Chesham United, Chichester City, Ebbsfleet United, Enfield Town, Ipswich Town, Luton Town, MK Dons and Norwich City.

Last year's champions were Lewes LFC and the first club tom win the league were Wembley Mill Hill who have since merged with QPR. Of the teams currently playing in the league 4 have won the league before: Enfield in 2002; Crystal Palace in 2004; Ipswich in 2008 and Luton in 2009.

Club focus - Bugbrooke St.Michael's

Ely City drew in the FA Cup with Bugbrooke St. Michael's on Saturday, so they've got a replay against Bugbrooke tomorrow night.

Despite having a twee name that would sound more at home in a Beatrix Potter book and a badge to match, as well as playing at a ground with a name to match, Bird's Close, the Badgers are an ambitious outfit. Last season they finished 3rd in the United Counties League Division 1 and will be hoping for promotion this time out. They have also had a few good runs in the cup having got to the first round of the FA Vase in 200-2001 and getting to the second round in 2009-2010.

Other than that I can't really find out much about the club, apart from the fact that they were formed in 1929. Another question that needs to be asked is why does a team nicknamed the Badgers wear yellow and blue.

Photos from Cambridge Women v Palace Women

Cambridge Players just before kick off

View of the game with the cathedral in the background.

Cambridge corner in the first half.

Another photo from the second half.

Cambridge corner in the second half. This one went just over the bar.

Women's football at the Unwin

Yesterday Cambridge Women took on Crystal Palace Women at the Unwin Ground. After losing the possibility to play at the Cambridge Stadium the women's football team decided to move to Ely and they played their first game there yesterday.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the sun was shining and was in sharp contrast to the thunderstorms of the day before, but it was free to get in, so there can be no complaints there. Unfortunately there wasn't much of a crowd, but with it being a bank holiday weekend and there being a distinct lack of publicity maybe things will pick up on the attendance front as the season progresses.

Both teams went into the game on the back of defeats. Cambridge had lost 4-2 to MK Dons previously and Palace had suffered a 9-1 defeat at the hands of Chesham, so it looked like we were going to be in for some goals. We weren't disappointed either as Cambridge took a 1-0 lead in the first minute after making the most of a poor clearance by the goalkeeper. On 7 minutes a decent through ball saw Cambridge double their lead and it looked like we might be about to experience a rout. Some good work by the Cambridge centre forward saw her slot home on 13 minutes and it was already 3-0.

At this point Crystal Palace seemed to wake up and the goalkeeper finally seemed to realise that passing the ball out was better than booting it and it inevitably going to a Cambridge player. They weren't creating too many chances though and Cambridge continued to press to extend their lead. Palace cleared the ball off the line after 37 minutes and the centre forward was unlucky not to have a fourth on 41.

Palace continued to improve in the second half and on 48 minutes came close to pulling back a goal, but the ball went across the goal and was cleared. One minute later they tried the same move again and the result was the same.

Cambridge were also gaining in confidence, which perhaps wasn't a good thing as they were being a bit too cocky and shooting on site. The Palace keeper was equal to every thing they threw at her though and the game finished 3-0 to Cambridge.

It was a good day out, but it was a shame that the attendance wasn't higher and a lack of information due to their being no announcer or programme and the website being under construction is a bit of a pain

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Match abandoned

Today was an FA Cup day, but as Ely were handed an away match on the other side of Northampton we decided to stay in the Eastern Counties League with a match at the Abbey Stadium between CRC and Mildenhall.

The game started off with some bad weather, but was clear enough for the first couple of minutes.

However for the first 10 minutes or so, the weather got worse ....

... and worse for the first 10 minutes.

We did get a bit of a rest bite from the weather though and Mildenhall seemed to settle into the game first of all. On 13 minutes they wasted a gilt-edged chance, but the greasy pitch could have been to blame for this. CRC came back at them and had a decent chance on 18 minutes, but Pope in the Mildenhall goal was as always on excellent form. For the first 35 minutes Hall had the better chances, but were often caught offside. CRC on the other hand looked skilled, but often gave the ball away cheaply when in the Hall half. How the game would have played out though we won't know, as the skies opened up and on 40 minutes the match was abandoned.

I'm just hoping that it will dry up a bit tomorrow, as I'm hoping to go to Cambridge Women V Crystal Palace Women.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to the days of old

Last night Ely took on Godmanchester Rovers and again it was a disappointing game. Ely are finding it hard to regain the form that they hit last season and the performance was more on a par with the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons when the midfield seemed to lack creativity, the defence was prone to mistakes and the goals tended to come from Ben Lawrence throws into the box. This comes as a bit of a surprise as the basis of last season's team are still at the club and if anything they have managed to add some quality to the ranks. One noticeable absentee last night though was Adam Murray, who has formed a good central defensive partnership with Ben Lawrence over the last two seasons. As most of Godmanchester's attacks tended to go down the middle it is a worry that Murray, who was actually at the ground, has been linked with a move to Kettering.

The game started quite slowly, but after 10 minutes it was Ely who looked the livelier of the two teams. However, despite being the first of the two teams to settle Rovers split the defence on 19 minutes and had a 1-0 lead. It didn't take long for them to extend their lead either, on 23 minutes a fumble by Lee Pacey in the Robins' goal allowed the visitors to stretch their lead 2-0. Finally, Ely were spurned into action and on 27 minutes the ball fell in the box from a Ben Lawrence throw for Chadwick to stroke the ball home and to make the score 2-1.

Ely continued to press for the rest of the first half, but were also living dangerously with a series of defensive errors and inevitably they fell further behind just before the break when a totally needless corner was given away and the defence was left standing around like statues to allow Rovers to go in the break 3-1 up.

The Robins looked up for it in the second half and pressed to get back in the game. Rovers seemed intent on time wasting from the off and were also getting a bit bad tempered. As were the Ely players, and it looks like discipline could be another issue this season, especially as Darren Coe and Lee Pacey were both sent off last weekend. Anyway, Ely finally got the goal that they deserved on 61 minutes when Luke Parkinson scored from another Ben Lawrence power throw.

Ely continued to fight, Godmanchester continued to time waste, but the game finished with the Visitors 3-2 victors. Ely need to improve and fast and to inject a little more creativity or it could be a long season.

Photo below shows an early attack by Ely City.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Club focus -Godmanchester Rovers

Tonight Ely City take on Godmanchester Rovers in the Eastern Counties League. Both teams have played 3 games so far this season and both of them are looking for a first league win of the season.

Godmanchester are enjoying their first season at this level after pipping Thetford to first place in the first division last season. In fact the game between the 2 last season, which more or less sealed their place in the premier division saw a record crowd of 150 at Bearscroft Lane.

As you can imagine from that record attendance Godmanchester are one of the minnows of the league. The first record of the team was in 1928-29 when the club won the Hunts Junior Cup. They spent most of their formative years in the Huntingdonshire League which they won in 1989. They then went on to win it again in 1992 and were promoted to the Cambridgeshire League's top division. They also won the league's cup in 1995 and 1996, before being relegated to Senior A of the Cambs League in 2000.

They were in this division in 2002 when they applied to join the Eastern Counties League and against all expectations they were allowed to join. They were also jammy not to be relegated in 2005 when they finished bottom, but due to a technality and the fact that it is one of the hardest leagues to get relegated from without going bust they were given a stay of execution.

They didn't really set the division alight until last season when they won the division and beat the widely loathed Whitton to claim the League Cup. If they don't get a result tonight it could be a long season for them, likewise Ely need to start getting a few points on the board.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ely and Rothwell Corinthians pictures again

A couple more from Sean's collection.

Ely on the attack in the second half.

Josh Curry and Luke Parkinson of Ely City.

More pictures from Ely v Rothwell Corinthians

The photos in the match report were both taken by Sean and here are a collection of some of his others.

A couple of midfield battles.

Pacey is forced into a rare piece of the action in this game.

Ely's goalmouth

Corinthians on the ball before things went wrong for them.

Robins Rock in the FA Cup

Today Ely City took on Rothwell Corinthians of the United Counties in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup. I don't imagine that the Robins will make it to the final, but a good run in the cup competitions always makes for an interesting season, so it was good to see Ely negotiate the first hurdle.

Ely got off to a great start as on 4 minutes a clever flick on by Richard Chadwick and then a decent pass from Andrew Claydon saw Lewis Thompson put the Robins 1-0 up. Ely had plenty of other chances to increase their lead with Claydon shooting just over when clear through on 8 minutes and Chadwick having a shot cleared off the line on 11. Things started to even out though and most of the next 20 minutes were played out in the middle of the field. Around the half hour mark the visitors had a flurry of corners that Ely did well to defend. Just after this David Wilson (number 6 below) hobbled off the pitch and was replaced by Richard Gammon. Fortunately, it seems that he only has a bruised knee.

Putting yet another forward on the pitch for a midfielder seemed at the time like a strange decision, but Gammon soon proved Alsop's decision right when he'd been given some time in the second half. On 55 minutes a Luke Parkinson corner from the right needed the faintest of touches from Gammon to make it 2-0. Parkinson and Gammon linked up again on 63 minutes when this time Parkinson crossed from the left for Gammon to score again.
The picture below shows Gammon on the right turning away after scoring the third.

On 73 minutes it was almost nearly 4 when Claydon managed to hit the upright from a corner, which was one of several corners for Ely which could so easily have gone in. It looked like the Corinthians might be able to get back in the game and that Ely might regret the squandered the chances when just 3 minutes later they pulled a goal back from a needless corner.

There was nothing to worry about though as on 82 minutes the Robins made it 4-1 when Parky and Gammo were up to it again. This time he got another touch from a corner and the Robins were in the next round. Ely hadn't finished though, as on 84 minutes yet another inch perfect cross from Parkinson was drilled home by Chadwick. Then with 2 minutes remaining Gammon scored what could already be goal of the season when he volleyed the ball from 40 yards out giving the keeper no chance and it was 6-1. There was still time for one more as deep in stoppage time Josh Bridgeman tapped the ball in the six yard box it hit a Rothwell defender and the Corinthians had lost 7-1. To think at half time we had been worried about Ely holding on to their 1-0 lead.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quick look at the season ahead

Today I have been looking at the fixtures for the season ahead and as I also wanted to try out my new tablet I thought that I would have a look at the prospects of the clubs I will be following. I have to admit that this post is a little late as the Eastern Counties has already got under way.  Anyway here goes with what I think can be expected from the season.

Ely City
Last time out the Robins were the surprise package in the Eastern Counties. They finished second and won the county cup despite having a fairly small budget and got through on some amazing team spirit. It's not going to be so easy this time out, but I am hoping for a top six finish.

Thetford Town
After a fantastic season in the first division of the Eastern Counties Thetford will be with Ely in the top division of the league. I think that a mid table finish should be in their grasp.  You might expect them to have a bit of momentum going into the new season,but they have lost a couple of players and there are a few clubs with fairly big budgets holding on to the top positions.

Peterborough United
The Posh are one of the smaller teams in the Championship and now that they have been forced to close their away standing end revenues are set to drop. The good news is that they have managed to keep most of the squad from last season together. Also if they do get in any trouble Darren Ferguson will probably be able to get a few reinforcements from his Dad in the transfer window. The football will probably be entertaining, but survival is probably be what they are aiming at.

Aston Villa
Looking at the fixtures and finances it's going to be hard to get to many Villa games, but with Mc.Leish gone at least there is more motivation to get up there. Lambert has brought in some handy signings with perhaps more to follow. Ironically Holman who signed on a free when Mc.Leish was still in charge looks like he could be a great player. In pre-season even Steven Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia have looked interested (even if not that great). That said money talks in the Premier League and a top half finish is probably the best we can hope for.

King's Lynn Town
The Linnets have stepped up to the Northern Premier Division 1 South and after a couple of seasons of finding life easy at Step 5, they'll be looking forward to the challenge. They may have been used to having things their own way, but despite attracting large crowds even for the Northern Premier I think that they will find life a bit harder. The transfer window has seen The Walks resemble a revolving door and it may take them a few weeks to bring the new players up to scratch. That said, I think that they'll finish in the top half.

Cambridge United
I imagine that they'll just miss out on the play-offs, but with tickets costing the same as Peterborough I doubt I'll be visiting their often

Another season of mediocrity in the Blue Square North awaits Histon. I think they'll stay up but can't see them doing much more.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The season starts here

It might be two weeks still before most of the football gets under way, but yesterday saw the Step 5 teams kick off their season and I was at Ely City's opening game against Kirkley & Pakefield.

Last season Ely finished runners-up and will be looking for a top 6 finish this season after adding to the squad that did so well last year. That said Kirkley & Pakefield always prove to be strong opposition and I think that Gorleston and Wisbech are going to be the sides to beat this year, with Brantham also looking worth a punt after the way they improved in the second half of last season. K & P did prove to be strong opposition, but it's always hard to tell what the season holds early on with players still coming up to full fitness, being on holiday and new players getting used to their new clubs. Like in most of the matches played in the Eastern Counties Premier yesterday the game ended in a draw; Gorleston, Norwich United and Brantham being the only sided to get 3 points in the first round of games.

Ely played reasonably well for the first 20 minutes, but new right back Darren Coe looked a bit out of his depth and we were all wondering why Chris Sterecki hadn't started. Adam Murray could have put the Robins ahead on 13 minutes with a fine header from a corner, but he was denied by the Royal's goalkeeper. Chadwick should really have put the home side 1-0 up on 20 minutes when an attacking free kick from K&P was cleared and he was clear through on goal, but shot wide.

Things were to change though and just 1 minute later Ely failed to clear their lines and gifted Ross King with a goal which put the visitors one up. 3 minutes on and K&P could have easily made it 2-0 when another defensive error let King through again, but this time Pacey pulled off a brilliant save to prevent the striker from claiming his second.

A couple of minutes later and Ely were back on equal terms when a 26th minute corner was flicked on by a header from Nick Impey for Andrew Claydon to slot home a header on his competitive debut for the Robins. Concentration was clearly a problem for Ely though as just one minute later Ryan Crisp was allowed clear through and he slotted the ball under Pacey to make it 2-1 to the visitors.

The defensive blundering continued up until half time and although Chadders had a decent chance to equalise on 42 minutes Ely were lucky not to go in at the break even worse off than being 2-1 down. In fact K&P had a goal ruled offside just before the whistle was blown for the end of the half.

Ely had obviously had the telling off that they deserved at half time and they finally started to play like the team they were last season. On 54 minutes a fine pass from Claydon to Luke Parkinson was slotted home and the teams were on equal terms. After this the game was a real battle and Luke Parkinson was providing some fine trickery on the wing, but the final product was unfortunately lacking. A clever move from Ely in the last minute nearly saw Adam Murray claim all 3 points for the home team, but it wasn't to be and on balance 2-2 was probably a fair result.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Villa win at Posh

Last night Villa went to London Road for their 3rd friendly with Peterborough at their stadium in 4 years.

As usual I turned up way to early and the first disappointment was that Posh have been forced into closing their away terracing, so we had to go in the seats. Luckily though everything else went well. Before the match we saw the Villa players turning up and met a few of the Peterborough players. Sean got the autographs of Lee Tomlin, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Michael Bostwick.

Villa had a decent following for a mid week game, especially with the number of friendlies coming up before the season. In the first half we sat above one of the exits, but we were quickly joined by some of the moaning Villa fans that the club is famous for. The second half we were sat at the front and it was unfortunate that I didn't take the camera as we were right on the touchline with a great view.

Villa put out a team that mixed the youth and a few of the old hands with Shay Given, Stephen Ireland and Charles N'Zogbia being the senior members in the starting line up.

Peterborough played well enough but Villa were a different class to Posh. It was good to see Villa moving the ball around in midfield well for the first time in a long time. Stephen Ireland was getting stuck in for a change and N'Zogbia was making some good runs,although he could have looked up more before smacking the ball in. That said with a more senior forward to supply Villa could have been out of site after 20 minutes. Villa had Andreas Weimann and Daniel Johnson up front. Weimann despite making an impact last season and breaking into the first team seemed a little out of sorts, but Daniel Johnson looked like he could be one for the future. It was Johnson who finally got the breakthrough for Villa on 39 minutes when he converted a cross from Eric Lichaj.

The second half saw both sides make several changes, but Villa continued to dominate. Peterborough had a few chances from set pieces, but they were wasted on most occasions by Grant Mc.Cann and when Posh weren't wasting their chances Nathan Baker seemed to be able to snuff out any of their forays into the Villa half, if Fabian Delph hadn't already stopped them.

Villa finally got another goal on 80 minutes when new signing Brett Holman, who looked good from when he got on, scored a beautiful goal just in front of us to make it 2-0.

It was great to see Villa in action and as always it was great to visit London Road.

Johnson celebrates his goal

N'Zogbia on the attack

Delfouneso in action

Stephen Ireland tussles with David Farrell. Farrell played the last half hour for Posh, he spent over 10 years at Posh and 3 at Villa during his career.