Ely City 1
Newmarket Town 2
Newmarket Town edged past local rivals Ely City 2-1 to book a trip to Stotfold in the first round proper of the FA Vase later this month.
Goals from Ross Paterson and Steve Holder gave the Jockeys a 2-0 lead over their lower league opponents, who put up more than a fight with James Seymour scoring five minutes from time to set-up a grandstand finish at the Unwin Ground on Saturday.
And after seeing their appeals for a penalty on Seymour turned down in the final minutes, it was Newmarket who held on to scoop the £800 prize and move into the first round proper of the Vase.
Ely handed a start to new signing Matty Simpson, who ended his six year stay with Soham Town Rangers last week to drop down two levels to join the Thurlow Nunn League First Division outfit.
Brady Stone’s Robins started the brighter of the two teams and were looking confident in possession in the early stages of the cup tie.
Despite their positive start City were unable to create anything from the free-kicks and corners which came their way, and after 15 minutes it was the visitors who went in front.
Ely were caught in possession on the attack and Newmarket broke up field, with Paterson converting Will Lawton’s cross to give the Jockeys a 1-0 lead.
After conceding the hosts continued to have most of the possession, but a strong Newmarket defence stood firm.
Alex Theobald had a shot tipped over by the impressive visiting goalkeeper George Lawton, before Ash Walter had a long range effort blocked and new boy Simpson headed over when well positioned.
Newmarket doubled their lead on the hour mark when Holder headed home from a corner, but City still pushed for a breakthrough of their own as George Lawton produced fine saves to keep out efforts from both Seymour and Sam Goodge.
Ely finally found a breakthrough in the 85th minute after Craig Neal set-up Seymour to finish confidently into the bottom corner.
Stone’s side threw everything at Newmarket in the final minutes to grab an equaliser, with Saunders shooting inches past the post, before Seymour appeared to be tugged back in the box but the referee turned down the home side’s appeals.
Ely return to league action with a visit to AFC Sudbury Reserves on Saturday (3pm), before travelling to Fakenham Town in the League Challenge Cup on Wednesday (7.45pm).
Newmarket turn their focus back onto their Premier Division campaign when they host Kirkley and Pakefield on Saturday (3pm), before visiting Haverhill Rovers in the League Challenge Cup on Tuesday night (7.45pm).