Ely boss seeking more progress after impressive 2016/17 season

LOOKING AHEAD: Brady Stone is gearing up for another season in charge of Ely City
LOOKING AHEAD: Brady Stone is gearing up for another season in charge of Ely City

While ensuring Ely City remain a Step Five club is Brady Stone’s major priority during the 2017/18 season, the manager also has one eye on the top 10.

The previous campaign was a successful one for The Robins, who on their return to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division finished safely in 13th.

On top of that, Stone oversaw the club’s record run to the last 16 of the Buildbase FA Vase and also the final of the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup.

Step Five remains the name of the game this time around, but Stone is also hoping to see some improvement from his side.

“It was a really good year for the club last year but the main aim now is to try to progress,” said the Ely boss, whose side get under way at home against Saffron Walden Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).

“Something like a top-10 finish would be absolutely fantastic for us.

“But every other club is building and getting so much stronger, so first and foremost we need to make sure we stay in the Premier Division.

“There might be a little bit more expectancy after what we achieved last year and the boys have probably set themselves high targets.

“If there is any more pressure, hopefully we can deal with that, especially against the lesser sides because we did not always play well against them.

“Once we get enough points to stay up, we can then look to improve and see where that takes us.”

One area in particular that Stone is looking to see some enhancement in is in front of goal.

Ely scored a respectable 63 goals from their 40 Premier Division outings, but the manger wants to elevate that return.

In a bid to deliver on that target, Nick Heap (Hardwick), Jonathan Brown (Soham United) and Ryan Williams (unattached) have all been recruited to bolster the frontline.

“We were tight at the back most weeks, but probably did not score enough goals,” added Stone.

“We do not want to become more open and suddenly start shipping too many goals, so we have to find the right balance.

“There are 46 league games this year and so we need more options, especially up front, where it will be important to keep players fresh.”

Prior to the curtain-raiser against Saffron Walden on Tuesday, Ely will play their final pre-season friendly of the summer at home to St Neots Town on Saturday (3pm).

Last Thursday, goals from George Darling and Tom Thurlbourn were not enough to prevent Ely from losing 3-2 at Biggleswade, while on Tuesday they lost by the same scoreline to Bury Town, with Sam Reed and Craig Neal on target.