Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ely up for the cup again

Ely were back in action at the Unwin last night when they took on Histon in the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. The Robins won the cup last season, so they were given a bye all the way to the quarter final where they were drawn at home to the Blue Square North team. It was always going to be a hard game and Ely as they are accustomed to doing made heavy work of the cup tie. Put it this way I spent ages there last night, but as I hadn't been to a match at the Unwin for 2 months, mainly due to work and the weather I couldn't complain.

The first 15 minutes were a pretty uneventful affair and not much happened. Ely had the better of it and the Histon defence seemed to be determined to make things difficult for themselves, but there were no real chances. The first real chance came on 18 minutes when Josh Bridgeman had a couple of shots cut out, but made sure with the third shot as he put the ball into the back of the net to give Ely the lead.

Ely seemed content to contain Histon and hit them on the break. Histon meanwhile weren't really creating anything and it soon descended into a stalemate. The only other real chance of the half came just before the break when Darren Coe came close to extending the host's lead with a glancing header from a Luke Parkinson corner.

The Robins came out firing on all cylinders and top scorer Porky Claydon was soon introduced into the fray. The first minute of the half saw Taz beat a couple of players and provided a perfect cross for Nick Impey, but his weak header was easily saved. Histon continued to mess around with the ball too much in defence and on 58 Ely got a throw in when the visitors should have cleared. Ben Lawrence threw the ball into the box and Claydon headed just over.

However, it wasn't to be Ely who were to score next, as just after the hour mark Histon were awarded a corner and a bullet header put them back in the game with what was their first real chance of the game.

Ely's response was to up the tempo and Histon replied in kind. The Robins clearly wanted to finish the game in normal time, and you would probably have had to have fancied the full-time team against the part-time Robins if the game was to go past 90. On 68 minutes an uncharacteristic soft shot, which he should have buried by Claydon was nearly punished when Histon nearly scored on the counter. On 75 minutes a much better shot by Claydon was stopped by the finger tips of the Histon keeper. However, it looked like Histon might nick it at the end when Pacey was beaten, but Lawrence saved his bacon by clearing off the line.

So, extra time... despite what I said it looked like Ely were the most likely to get the win as they upped the tempo even further for one last push. Stoppage time started with Impey fluffing his lines and Gammon, who had just come on just missing the target. However, despite all the Ely endeavour they weren't able to finish off the job before it went to penalties.

Penalties are always a lottery, but despite a fairly terrible record with penalties in actual games I have never seen them lose a shoot out, and I've seen quite a few. Apart from that due to absences and forced substitutions Ely must have had every attacking player on their books on their pitch, so I had a good feeling. I had an even better feeling a moment later when Histon took their first penalty and hit the post with it. Next up was Josh Bridgeman, who put the penalty right down the middle and although the keeper got his hand to it, it went into the back of the net. Histon then scored with a fairly similar penalty. Next up was Luke Parkinson, who went for sheer power and there was no way anybody would have got in the way of his penalty, as the Robins went back into the lead with a shot in hand. Histon scored their next 2 penalties and Porky Claydon and Chadders also converted for Ely. This meant that Histon had to score their next penalty, but once more Pacey was the hero of the shoot out as he saved the shot and Ely were in the semi-final.

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