FA CUP EXTRA-PRELIMINARY ROUND: Ely City 1 Deeping Rangers 4
Ely City’s FA Cup campaign was over before it had even got properly started as Deeping Rangers took full advantage of some woeful defending at The Unwin Ground.
The United Counties League Premier Division visitors from Lincolnshire were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes with Scott Coupland and Ben Lewis on the scoresheet, before adding a third on the stroke of half-time via Scott Mooney’s header.
Ely threw on their full allocation of substitutes at half-time in a bid to kickstart an unlikely-looking fightback but went 4-0 behind ahead of the hour mark with Coupland getting his second.
The home fans did have a goal to finally cheer when Joe Peacock slammed in a 76th minute penalty and the visitors sent their own one against the crossbar.
The Robins had gone into the tie with their Lincolnshire opponents looking to progress past the first hurdle in the FA Cup for the first time in four seasons.
Brady Stone named an unchanged side from the one which opened their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division campaign with a 2-0 home defeat to near-neighbours Mildenhall Town on Tuesday evening.
They survived a few early scares at the back before Matt Simpson had Richard Stainsby arching his back to tip-over a hooked overheard effort following Craig Neal’s throw-in.
But the goal Rangers had been threatening arrived in the 15th minute. Ely’s defence was cut open all too easily through the middle and Coupland ran onto a threaded pass before sliding the ball beyond Harry Reynolds.
Within four minutes they had doubled their advantage when the ball was hoisted in from Deeping’s right-hand side and Lewis’ header found the back of the net.
The pathway through the middle of the park continued to be open for the visitors with Henry Dunn unable to provide a finish to add a third.
Up the other end a rare home chance saw James Seymour’s header from Daniel Jeffrey’s hanging cross goes wide, with the referee surprisingly signalling a corner from which Stainsby had to punch clear.
Rangers should have had a third soon after when Coupland threaded Tom Smith through unmarked on the left and his low cross-shot went inches wide of far post and just out of reach of the sliding boot of Mooney.
Reynolds was out smartly to save with his feet from Coupland after another throughball sent him clear before the third did arrive in first-half stoppage time.
Lewis sent in a deep right-wing cross and Mooney outjumped his marker to nod the ball in.
Brady brought Lewis Hook, Joe Peacock and Joe Brannan on at the break in a bid to turn the tide.
And there was initial hope it might work when Mason Newman forced Stainsby to tip over following Simpson’s cross.
But that momentum soon faded as Mooney sent two efforts wide at the other end before the fourth goal arrived.
In a fine move in the 57th minute the ball was played from right to left with Smith sending in a delightful low drilled cross that saw Coupland time his run and finish to perfection, nipping in ahead of Ashley Walter and Tom Williams to steer home.
Charlie Poulson brought a save out of Reynolds as Rangers continued to press before Ely substitute Peacock sent over from long-range.
Reynolds had to be on hand again to make a good stop to deny substitute Will Bird after another flowing move from the visitors.
Ely were awarded a penalty in the 75th minute when Tom Smith was adjudged to have handled following a goalmouth scramble that saw Hook smash the ball off the crossbar.
Peacock duly converted it, sending a confident kick into the top right-hand corner.
The hosts came close to pulling another back when Newman, who had looked lively in the second half, cut in from the left before firing an effort just wide.
Deeping were awarded their own penalty five minutes from time after centre-halves Walter and Williams sandwiched Bird, but David Burton-Jones saw his kick cannon back off the crossbar.
Simpson looked fortunate not to be sent off after an ill-timed crunching challenge as the match entered its final stages, with there being no more chances of note.
Stone gave his players a dressing down on the pitch following the final whistle after a game in which they again gave themselves too much to do after conceding early goals.
Ely will now turn their attention back to the league where they will look to pick up their first Premier Division points since promotion at Ipswich Wanderers on Saturday (3pm).
Ely: Reynolds, Jeffery (Brannan 46), Alsop, Griffin (Hook 46), Walter, Williams, Newman, Darling, Simpson, Seymour (c), Neal (Peacock 46).
Journal Man of the Match: Harry Reynolds. Goalkeeper prevented scoreline looking even more embarrassing.
* For reaction to a disappointing day for Ely, see Thursday’s Ely and Soham Journal.