Last night the oldest club in Cambridgeshire, Ely City, took on the oldest club in Cambridge itself, Cambridge University Press for a place in the final of the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup. Last year Ely City won the competition by beating Soham Town Rangers in the final, but the omens weren't great as Ely had been on a terrible run of late. Last Tuesday's home defeat was followed up by another defeat at home on Saturday. I missed that particular match as my old mate Anatoliy 'Han' was in town, but more about that later.
CUP have been doing well in their division, which is the one below Ely and on paper it looked like they would prove to be decent opposition. However, the start of the game looked like things were going to be very different. Adam Claydon came close to putting the Robins ahead with a bullet header on the 2nd minute, but the keeper was equal to it. It looked like it was going to be a long night for the visitors, as Ely attacked in swathes, but couldn't really find away to the goal. In the 13th minute the Robins took the lead when Adam Murray's shot was cleared off the line, but Richard Chadwick was on hand to stab the ball home from close range.
Although Ely were dominating and the midfield of Curry, Bolton, Diaper and Luke Parkinson were creating and were being well supported by the 2 fullbacks Strecki and Sam Parkinson CUP were still in the game and did have the odd chance. On 27 minutes Lee Pacey made a great save after a long slide pass was collected by a CUP forward. There were very few actual goal chances though in the rest of the half. That said Ely got the ball in the back of the net twice only to be ruled offside. The second one being in the final minutes of the half and what actually looked like an own goal, so how the decision of offside was arrived at is a bit of a mystery.
CUP started off the second half with the bit between their teeth and it looked like the teams must have swapped shirts at half time, as it was now the visitors who were attacking with urgency. On 50 minutes Pacey made a fine save and on 53 Strecki was on hand to clear the ball after a follow up from another fine save by Pacey. That was more or less it for the boys in light blue though, as Ely remembered what they were there for after the first 15 minutes of the half and started to stamp their authority on the game again. Apart from one shot that Pacey saved on 66 minutes Ely had all of the chances. After a fortunate save by the CUP keeper on 69 minutes Strecki decided to finish off the visitors. On a mazy run through the defenders that was reminiscent of his goal against Soham in last year's final he was unstoppable and with 20 minutes left and the temperature dropping in the fog it looked like for once we weren't going to be going to extra time. There were further good efforts by Impey and Luke Parkinson, but it ended 2-0 as the Robins ran out comfortable winners and booked themselves a place in a final against Cambridge City at Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium.