Stone eyes Knockout Cup glory after reaching quarter-finals

FOOTBALL - Diss Town v Ely City. ANL-151129-123436006

FOOTBALL - Diss Town v Ely City. ANL-151129-123436006

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Brady Stone feels his Ely City side are capable of going all the way in the First Division Knockout Cup after reaching the quarter-finals this week.

The Robins booked their place in the last eight of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division exclusive competition, following Tuesday’s comfortable 5-0 home win over Needham Market Reserves.

And with another home tie in the shape of Stowmarket Town in the next round, Stone has talked up Ely’s prospects of emulating the run that saw them lift the trophy back in the 2007-08 campaign.

“At the start of the season we said it’s a cup that we want to win,” said the Ely boss, who takes his side to Woodbridge Town on Saturday (3pm).

“There are some good teams left in it. Halstead have been drawn against Great Yarmouth and Wivenhoe are also still in there.

“But we’ve seen in this league already that most teams can beat anyone in this league. We think we can beat anyone in this league as well.

“Me and Martin (Grey, assistant manager) have both won it as players, and we’d like to win it again as managers.”

Stone was part of the Ely team which defeated Halstead Town on penalties in the 2008 final, while Grey helped the Robins to a 2-1 final victory over Needham Market three years earlier in 2005.

Since the First Division Knockout Cup launched in the 1999-00 season there have been 12 different winners, with Ely and Haverhill Rovers leading the way with three wins each.

“We’re at home to Stowmarket next and they are a good team,” Stone said. “We saw that when they beat us 4-1 earlier in the season.

“They’ve had some funny results this season, but we will see it as a chance to get into the semi-finals and all the boys will be up for it.”

Matt Simpson marked his return to Ely’s starting line-up with a hat-trick against Needham on Tuesday night, which took the former Soham Town Rangers man into double figures for this season.

“It was another hat-trick for Matt,” Stone said. “He’s been out with a thigh injury for the last few weeks, but was back on Saturday and we gave him 20 minutes and he scored.

“It’s nice to see him back and scoring goals again.”

Sam Goodge and Alex Theobald were also on target in the win over Needham, while James Seymour looked to have netted the winner for the Robins when he put them 3-2 up at Diss Town on Saturday.

After Goodge and Simpson had both found the target to twice cancel out the home side’s lead, Seymour struck late on to fire Ely in front.

But deep into added time Diss grabbed an equaliser to leave Stone’s men trailing Wivenhoe Town by 11 points.

Ely will assess the fitness of Craig Neal ahead of the weekend, but other than that will take a fully-fit squad to Notcutts Park.