THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Mildenhall Town 1
Ely City 1
Dean Greygoose warned his Mildenhall Town side that changes are in the offing after they were held to their first draw of the season at the hands of cross-county rivals Ely City on Tuesday.
It was the nature of the performance, rather than the end result, that predominately frustrated the Hall boss, who watched on as his side laboured for large parts against their lively visitors.
It has been an all too familiar occurrence for the hosts over recent weeks, despite the fact they still hold a 16-point lead at the top of the standings.
Aside from the 5-0 win at bottom-placed Swaffham Town last time out, victories have had to be battled out, rather than coming with the fluency and verve they did earlier in the campaign.
And, having produced their ‘worst performance of the season’ in the score-draw with The Robins, Greygoose is now ready to shuffle his pack.
“It was not good enough from one to 11. That was easily our worst performance of the season,” he said.
“We were not physically or mentally strong enough and did not pass the ball well.
“We had to defend when we should not have had to because people did the simple things wrong.
“This was a big game for us and we have not delivered.
“There was more than enough quality out there to get the result, but nobody played better than a five out of 10.
He continued: “I am going to have to make changes because some of the players I have shown faith in have been poor.
“I have to have a serious look at the team because if we keep playing this way, we will get beat more often than not.
“Credit to Ely as well. They are on a good run and thoroughly deserved the draw.”
As well as missing the services of experienced striker Chris Bacon through injury, Mildenhall’s influential centre-back and captain Luke Butcher was ruled out by suspension.
It took just nine minutes for Butcher’s absence to be felt as Brady Stone’s Ely deservedly took the lead after a spell of early pressure.
Jamie Alsop swung a dangerous free-kick from the right touchline into the Mildenhall area, where so often their skipper has been on hand to clear the danger.
But without him, the hosts looked indecisive and when the ball broke for the recently-returned Nathan Littlefair, he lashed his shot past a helpless Josh Pope in the Mildenhall goal.
Now with their tails up, Ely — with only six league wins to their name all season — set about scoring a second goal, which they came agonisingly close to getting in the 21st minute.
A swift counter-attack freed George Darling, whose low shot across the face of goal was well saved by Pope.
Even so, it appeared that the onrushing former Mildenhall winger Kelvin Enaro was going to tuck in the rebound, but from a narrow angle he struck the post, before the home side eventually cleared the danger.
Within 60 seconds — and with Ely still cursing their misfortune —Mildenhall drew themselves level with a moment of real quality.
Inheriting possession 25 yards from goal, Jacob Brown cut inside on to his weaker left foot and unleashed a curling effort that flew into the top corner of Harry Reynolds’ net.
The in-form Stephen Spriggs tested Reynolds with a near-post shot soon after as the table-toppers attempted to move through the gears, while up the other end Darling chipped wide and Craig Neal stung Pope’s palms with a drilled effort.
Early in the second half there was a clash between former team-mates Enaro and David Cooper that resulted in both receiving cautions, and those two would also be involved in some late drama.
Before that, Mildenhall left winger Luke Parkinson was off target on two separate occasions, once with his head and the other a scuffed strike following Gareth Simpson’s lofted through ball.
There were eight minutes left of normal time when the second instalment of the Enaro and Cooper duel took place.
Ely’s number seven squared up his marker, dropped a shoulder and then drove goalwards, only to see the ball smothered by an alert Pope.
And two minutes late Dominic Hunt’s cross fell kindly for the Nigerian, whose powerful shot looked goalbound until Cooper bravely blocked, ensuring that the spoils were shared.
Mildenhall: Pope, S Parkinson, Asensi (Tolliday 68), Ruddy, Cooper, J Brown, Green, Simpson, L Parkinson, Spriggs (Stillinger 90), Clift (D Brown 59)
Subs not used: Sartini, Hilton
Ely: Reynolds, Jeffrey (Simpson 76), Alsop, Cambridge, Littlefair, Brookes, Enaro, Walter, Reed, Darling, Neal (Hunt 78)
Subs not used: Theobald, Shipp, Griffin
Journal Man of the Match - Adie Cambridge (Ely): He may be in his early 40s, but the midfielder never looked off the pace, used the ball well and was a calming influence on his team-mates
n On Saturday, Mildenhall return to action when Godmanchester Rovers will be their visitors (3pm).