Robins make immediate return as winning run seals promotion

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Leiston Reserves 1

Ely City 2

Ely City secured an immediate return to the Premier Division with a 12th successive victory by overcoming Leiston Reserves in a hard-fought win.

The game got off to the best possible start for Ely as they took the lead after only three minutes.

Alex Theobald charged down a home defender’s clearance and the ball fell to Craig Neal whose right footed shot was deflected past the keeper.

After 13 minutes the lead was doubled as Theobald was fouled in the area. He picked himself up and kept his calm to score from the spot.

Leiston went close to pulling a goal back when a header just cleared the bar, while at the other end the Robins went close to extending their lead when Matty Simpson fired over from just inside the box.

Spencer Saberton tried his luck from 25 yards but his right footed shot cleared the bar, before Leiston finished the half on top but the Ely defence held firm.

Robins began second half with the home side on top with Ely trying to hold on to their lead.

Daniel Jeffrey had to go off injured, with 16-year-old Joe Brannan replacing him at right back and the youngster was straight into the action clearing the ball off the line from a home player’s header.

However, as the ball was partially cleared it came back into the box and Josh Sewell was adjudged to have fouled a Leiston attacker resulting in the referee pointing to the spot for the second time in the match.

The home striker fired the ball towards the bottom corner, but Harry Reynolds made a great save.

Ely’s reprieve did not last long though and on 55 minutes Leiston pulled a goal back and became the first side to score a goal against the Robins in 569 minutes of football.

After 70 minutes, the visitors finally created another opener as Alex Theobald played through Craig Neal who was able to beat his man and fire across the goal but just out of the reach of Matty Simpson.

On 75 minutes, Leiston hit the post as a well worked free kick found the striker at the back post who hit a volley against the woodwork.

Ely introduced fresh legs for the last 15 minutes in Lewis Hook and Luke Mansfield as they were looking to run the clock down.

Some good work in the left channel by Ash Walter helped to tick down some of the valuable minutes. With 90 minutes played, Hook had a chance to wrap the game up but shot wide.

Leiston had one last free kick but it was wasted as it cleared all the players queued up in the box.

After nearly five minutes of added time the referee blew his whistle to the delight of the Ely players, bench and supporters with the celebrations of achieving promotion commencing on the pitch.

The latest victory leaves Ely in second place in the First Division table, three points behind current leaders Wivenhoe Town, having played a game more than the table-toppers.

The Robins were aiming to clinch a 13th successive win when they faced AFC Sudbury Reserves last night, before hosting Halstead Town on Saturday in the final match of the campaign.