Ely to focus on promotion push following a surprise cup defeat

CLOSE CALL: Stowmarket Town keeper Dan Joyce watches an Ely City effort at goal go over his crossbar during their 1-0 win at the Unwin Sports Ground
CLOSE CALL: Stowmarket Town keeper Dan Joyce watches an Ely City effort at goal go over his crossbar during their 1-0 win at the Unwin Sports Ground

THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE

FIRST DIVISION

KNOCKOUT CUP

QUARTER-FINALS

Ely City 0

Stowmarket Town 1

Matty Simpson has backed Ely City to bounce back from cup disappointment and reignite their promotion push this season.

The Robins suffered a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Stowmarket Town in the quarter-finals of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division Knockout Cup on Saturday.

And, with Brady Stone’s men left with only their First Division campaign to focus on for the rest of the season, the Ely winger is hopeful they can quickly get over their cup exit when they visit Debenham LC on Saturday (3pm).

“It was just one of those games,” Simpson conceded. “Their keeper has played really well and we just couldn’t get the ball in the net.

“It was frustrating going out of the cup. The gaffer said to us, in our second-half performance we did everything we could.

“We’ve got 15 games left and we’ve got to concentrate now and cement a top three place at the end of the season.

“Every game in this league is tricky, so we have to stick to our game plan and hopefully get over the finish line.”

On Saturday, it was the high-flying hosts who first came close to a breakthrough on eight minutes. Simpson’s marauding run down the right gave him space to cross for Sam Goodge, whose header was clawed away by Stowmarket goalkeeper Dan Joyce.

The AFC Sudbury loanee would go on to make several more important saves during the contest, but before then it was Stow’s turn to score the opening goal.

And they did so in style two minutes later, when Pleasance curled a shot into the top corner from around 25 yards out.

Apart from a Wayne Proctor corner and a deflected shot from Matt Dixon, it was the Robins who dominated the rest of the first-half.

Joyce was brought into action again on 21 minutes to push away Simpson’s shot at goal, before Josh Sewell was well-placed when his header from an Ashley Walter free-kick went over the crossbar.

Ely continued to push for an equaliser after the break, as Goodge spurned two inviting chances inside the opening 10 minutes of the second-half.

The hosts thought they had finally broken Stow’s resistance in the 65th minute following a scramble from a corner, but the visiting defence managed to clear the ball away just short of the line.

Crosses into the box were a dangerous weapon for Ely, as another delivery six minutes later forced Joyce into another save to keep his side in front.

The teenage shot-stopper sprang into action again on 83 minutes to stop substitute James Tricks’ shot with his legs, as time to started to run out for the home side.

Stowmarket’s James Graham received the first of two yellow cards a minute later, before being given his marching orders as the quarter-final entered added time.

But Ely could not find a breakthrough and now Stone’s side will turn their attention back to their league campaign and securing a return to the Premier Division at the first time of asking.

Ely City: ​Reynolds, Walter, Jeffrey (Tricks 66), Griffin, Sewell, Saberton, Simpson, Hook (Brown 66), Seymour (c) (Mansfield 80), Goodge, Neal. Subs not used: Theobald, Littlefair. Referee Mark Chalkley. Attendance 77.