The cold snap finally finished and despite a few games in the area being off because of waterlogged pitch the hard work at Ely on Saturday finally paid dividends even if it didn't quite work out on Saturday. Finally the much awaited 4th round match of the FA Vase against Spalding United was on.
Ely got off to a good start and started off by taking the game to the visitors. Attack was definitely going to be the best way forward for the Robins, as although their opponents play in a league at the same level most of their players had experience at a higher level and their budget is about ten times more than Ely's. The Robins' first chance came on 6 minutes when Austen Diaper put the ball just over the bar. On 10 minutes he had the ball in the back of the net when a well worked move saw Ely take the lead.
Ely continued to dominate for the first 20 minutes, but a misplaced back pass from Darren Coe saw Ely put under pressure for the first time. After this they lost the momentum for a while and what looked like a soft penalty on the half hour mark saw the away team grab an equaliser. Things were about to get worse for the home team as they struggled to dominate as they had in the opening passage of play and just 4 minutes later when Spalding took the lead. For the rest of the first half Ely found their feet again and Claydon and Diaper came close to finding an equaliser, but the half finished with the visitors in the box seat.
At the start of the second half Ely started to press for the equaliser and Spalding seemed to be happy to sit back and allow the home team to come at them and try and hit back on the break. On a few occasions it looked like this policy was going to work as the Tulips definitely looked dangerous on the break. Ely on the other hand despite the amount of pressure that they were heaping on the visitors were finding it hard to deal with the offside trap. The first real chance for the Robins coming on 62 minutes when Nick Impey came close with a free kick.
As the game progressed and Ely started to get more desperate for an equaliser they started to create more chances. Claydon drew a save from the keeper on 69. On 77 Taz should have perhaps got the teams on level terms when the keeper spilled the ball, but unfortunately the touch he got on it saw it ricochet out off the post. Diaper also came close on 82 but a defender cleared his shot off the line. That's not to say that it was all Ely though, Spalding who remained a threat on the break created a couple of good chances, for example a slip by Ben Lawrence on 80 minutes almost allowed Spalding in, but Pacey did well to save and on 85 they really could have put the game beyond doubt if they hadn't been denied by Pacey again.
So, Ely will have to wait another year for a chance to get to Wembley, but it was a good performance by the team. There is no doubt that Spalding are a very good team and Ely were missing key players including both of their left sided players with both of the Parkinsons being suspended, so they can take some positives from the match. There's still the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup to look forward to with a semi-final against CUP whenever there is a Tuesday free again.