History-making Robins keep Wembley dream alive as they march into last 16
BUILDBASE FA VASE
Ely City 3
Shepshed Dynamo 0
By manager Brady Stone’s own admission, Ely City’s record-breaking run to the last 16 of the Buildbase FA Vase is somewhat of a mystery.
With only six wins to their name all season, The Robins are entrenched deep within the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division relegation battle.
And yet, come Vase ties, Stone’s men have so far been able to raise their levels, just as they did on Saturday when beating Shepshed Dynamo in front of the highest ever crowd at The Unwin Ground.
“If I had the answer, I would be managing a lot higher!” the Ely chief quipped.
“We do not do anything different for the Vase matches.
“We treat it as a normal game because if you hype it up too much, that brings pressure.
“We want them to show hunger and play with a smile on their face — they have been doing that.
“These lads have come from local football and we do not pay much at all . We have one of the smallest budgets in the league.
“It shows their desire to want to do well for each other.”
The victory, which has seen Ely go further in the national competition than ever before, came courtesy of a first-half brace from Ashley Shipp, before George Darling — played in by new signing Sam Reed — settled the tie in the closing stages.
Leicestershire-based Dynamo, of the Midland League Premier Division, were the more dominant of the two teams early on.
However, for all of their possession, Harry Reynolds in the Ely goal remained largely untroubled.
In contrast, as the home side’s influence on proceedings grew, they started to carve out chances at regular intervals.
Kelvin Enaro was denied by Dynamo goalkeeper Ben Gathercole in the 16th minute, while George Darling could not quite stretch far enough to put the finishing touch to a free-flowing passing move.
Shipp, though, was more clinical after 38 minutes when he managed to force Enaro’s corner from the left flank over the line.
It got even better for Ely and the striker — in the starting line-up as a replacement for injured leading goalscorer Alex Theobald — two minutes before the break.
Ely captain and left-back Jamie Alsop made the most of the space he was afforded to centre the ball, where Shipp was waiting to glance a header inside the far post.
Shepshed saw plenty of the ball after the restart, but the majority of it was played in front of Ely, who showed greater defensive discipline than in their recent 5-4 league win over Walsham-le-Willows.
Meanwhile, the hosts could have put the tie to bed much sooner than they did, with the lively Enaro particularly guilty of firing over two good opportunities.
But the Nigerian’s blushes were spared 14 minutes from time when Reed — an addition from Bury Town earlier in the week — squared for Darling and the onrushing attacker made no mistake.
Ely: Reynolds, Jeffrey, Alsop, Griffin, Williams, Brookes, Enaro, Walter, Shipp (Reed 69), Darling (Neal 77), Simpson (Hunt 85)
Journal Man of the Match: Jamie Alsop
n Monday’s draw handed Ely another home tie in the fifth round, this time against Shepshed’s league rivals Sporting Khalsa.
The game is scheduled for Saturday, January 28 (3pm).
n In the league, Ely travel to Saffron Walden Town on Saturday (3pm), before a derby at Mildenhall Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).