Simpson’s solitary strike keeps promotion-chasing Ely on track

BATTLE FOR POSSESSION: Ely City and March Town players battle for the ball during Monday's encounter
BATTLE FOR POSSESSION: Ely City and March Town players battle for the ball during Monday's encounter
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Ely City 1

March Town 0

by Sam Murley

at The Unwin Ground

Substitute Matthew Simpson kept Ely City’s promotion charge on track with the match-winning strike against March Town on Monday.

Having secured a convincing 3-0 away win at Cornard United on December 19, courtesy of goals from Sam Goodge, Nathan Littlefair and Alex Theobald, the Robins reaped yet more festive cheer with a second successive victory after overcoming a dogged and determined March side.

In what proved a somewhat forgettable first 45 minutes, Simpson replaced the injured Alex Theobald after 36 minutes and had a quick impact, breaking the deadlock seven minutes later.

Chasing a long punt upfield, the forward’s efforts looked in vain as Town goalkeeper David Beeney looked set to collect after racing off his line.

However, what should have been a routine gather of the ball saw the custodian fumble, allowing Simpson to prod the ball into the unguarded net.

That momentum continued with the home side after the interval who again went close after 52 minutes.

A flowing move from right to left saw James Seymour find Simpson unmarked in the area but the striker could not capitalise as his low drilled effort was well saved by goalkeeper Beeney.

Ely’s Luke Brown then fired an effort straight at the goalkeeper, before the same player was denied to adding a second again after 71 minutes as the visitors desperately cleared a goalmouth scramble from their line.

March began to grow into the game as Lewis McManus tested Harry Reynolds with a quickly taken shot in the area, before Matt Barber saw a drilled right-footed effort whistle past the upright with 10 minutes remaining.

Goodge then missed a gilt-edged chance to double Ely’s advantage with five minutes remaining, firing over wildly inside the area, while at the other end March substitute Matthew Cox headed over a cross from Barber.

Moments from the end, March spurned an opportunity to snatch a share of the spoils as Barber sliced a first time right-footed effort wide of Reynolds’ post as Ely held on for a second successive win to keep them second in the league.

Ely City: Reynolds, Jeffrey, Saberton, Griffin, Littlefair, Sewell, Brown, Walter, Theobald (Simpson 36), Seymour, Goodge

Journal man of the match: Sam Goodge. Proved a constant threat to March Town’s defence throughout as he drifted across midfield. Attendance: 176.

n In the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, Newmarket Town will be aiming to avoid a fifth straight defeat when they travel to high-flying Stanway Rovers on Saturday (3pm).

Kevin Grainger’s charges, who sit eighth in the table, endured a difficult festive period after slipping to a fourth loss on the bounce as they were thumped 5-1 by Godmanchester Rovers at home on Boxing Day.

n Meanwhile, league rivals Mildenhall Town will also be aiming to raise the spirits as they look to end their own winless run and secure a first victory in five when they travel to FC Clacton on Saturday (3pm).

Dean Greygoose’s men suffered a convincing 3-0 defeat away at Norwich United on Monday, extending their winless run to four matches which has included two draws to leave them 13th in the standings.

Mildenhall will also be aiming to seal their progression in the League Challenge Cup when they host King’s Lynn Town Reserves on Tuesday (7.45pm).

n In stark contrast, in-form Soham Town Rangers will be looking to extend their winning run to four matches when they travel to Dereham Town in Ryman League Division One North on Saturday (3pm).

Rangers, who sit 15th in the table, have been in blistering form in recent weeks, securing victories over Harringey Borough (2-1), Romford (2-1) and Wroxham (1-0) ahead of Saturday’s clash.