THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Newmarket Town 4
Ely City 3
Nobody epitomised Newmarket Town’s never-say-die attitude on Tuesday night more than Rhys Thorpe.
The recent arrival from Eaton Socon handed the hosting Jockeys a 1-0 half-time lead, before Ely roared back after the restart with a three-goal blitz in the space of five minutes.
Newmarket refused to accept their fate, though, and were handed a big lifeline 16 minutes from time when Ely defender Tom Williams inexplicably handled inside the box.
Jack Watson scored from the spot and Stephen Spriggs equalised soon after, with Thorpe going on to spurn a couple of good openings either side of those goals.
However, one final chance fell his way in the sixth minute of stoppage-time. And while with earlier missed opportunities in mind it may have been easier to pass to a team-mate and shirk responsibility, Thorpe unleashed a low shot that nestled in the bottom corner to complete a dramatic comeback.
“I was really impressed with the way Rhys kept getting into areas,” said player-boss Michael Shinn.
“He is a young lad who is new to this level and is keen to learn.
“I told him after he missed those chances to stay in the game because I was certain he would get another chance.
“And when he did, he took it and that shows just how level-headed he is.
“He is a really good find for us and somebody that is going to be a very big player.”
Thorpe made his first major impact in the 15th minute, cutting inside from the right flank and shooting low.
Harry Reynolds in the Ely goal got a glove to the ball but he could not keep it out as the home side went in front.
Newmarket were the better team for the remainder of the half, with Shinn — playing in midfield — heading over at the back post and Thorpe being denied from close-range by Reynolds.
The visiting Robins, who have not beaten their neighbours in the league since March 2012, struggled to string anything together during the opening 45 minutes, but that all changed in the second half.
After a couple of sighters from distance they got themselves level in the 59th minute when Lee Reed’s perfectly-weighted pass found Alex Theobald and after taking one touch the striker buried his shot emphatically into the bottom corner.
And within two minutes they were in front — this time James Seymour was the scorer, firing in from six yards out after Newmarket goalkeeper Alex Archer had been unable to clear Jamie Alsop’s right-wing corner.
It got even better in the 64th minute as Deakan Napier’s half-volley from just outside of the area flew beyond the reach of Archer to leave Newmarket stunned.
Ely were looking like they could score every time they ventured forward by this point, but the pendulum swung back Newmarket’s way in the 74th minute.
Williams, who had defended so well for Ely up until that point, stuck up a hand as the teams jostled to meet Shinn’s corner and the reliable Watson made no mistake from 12 yards.
It sparked a period of one-way traffic and it eventually told in the 82nd minute with Spriggs drilling in his 21st goal of the campaign from what seemed to be a tight angle.
Newmarket continued to press but it looked as though Ely had weathered the storm until the very last attack, which ended with Thorpe scoring a similar type of goal to the one that had broken the deadlock much earlier in proceedings.
Newmarket: Archer, Paterson, Whiting, Partridge, Lambert, Watson, Spriggs, Shinn, Antoine (Avis 77), Whitehead, Thorpe
Ely: Reynolds, Sewell, Alsop, Walter, Williams, L Reed, Napier, Seymour, Heap (S Reed 68), Theobald, Thurlbourne
Journal Man of the Match - Rhys Thorpe: Showed good character to score the winner after missing a couple of chances
• Newmarket, who have moved up to seventh, are without a game this weekend and do not play again until their trip to Wroxham (11th) on April 14 (3pm).