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.

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