Pre-season Friendly: Crusaders FC vs AFC Ely 26/08/2020
Despite being a showdown between two teams representing the city of Ely, the friendly itself took place at the neutral venue of Little Thetford and regardless of the tagline of a ‘friendly’ match – this was anything but. The short distance from Ely to Little Thetford’s Social Club – which provided the battleground for the two teams – would lay witness to what was a battle on the pitch.
It was indeed Crusaders who would win the battle through a late winner – finally breaking man of the match Damian Geldenhuys’ resistance. Having been denied multiple times by Geldenhuys, most notably his spectacular triple save, Crusaders finally broke the deadlock when the ball was tapped in from close range following a well worked team move.
AFC Ely saw much more of the ball and subsequently enjoyed most of the first-half chances. ‘Chances’, however, is a term used loosely – as in this instance – the majority of opportunities that came their way were half-chances at best. Getting the ball down and playing neatly eluded AFC Ely: the 4B side just could not make it click in the final third and this is perhaps why they ultimately succumbed to defeat. Had the playing conditions been more favourable, with the bobbly pitch evident to see, things could have been different for AFC Ely.
In spite of what was a difficult pitch to play on, Crusaders showed why they are a league above AFC Ely and many of their second half substitutes showed this edge. AFC Ely made changes of their own and this disrupted their flow somewhat due to the wholesale changes in personnel. With changes in mind for both sides; Crusaders soon had AFC Ely pinned and this onslaught ensued for much of the first 20 minutes of the second-half. AFC Ely did eventually grow back into the game and as Crusaders committed more men forward in search of a breakthrough, more space began to open up.
During AFC Ely’s resurgence, Reece Jolly found himself through on goal but was denied a shooting opportunity when the Crusaders defender brought him down: however, much to the dismay of Jolly, the referee waved away his appeals. Last week’s match winner Owen Kennedy was also denied on the line when an opposition defender blocked his goal-bound effort. But in truth, had it not been for the heroics of AFC Ely’s goalkeeper and the sloppiness of Crusaders’ finishing – the final score line could have been a whole lot different.
Final score: Crusaders FC 1- 0 AFC Ely.
AFC Ely now have a week to recover before their next fixture when they come toe to toe with Oakington Vikings FC – kick off is at 6:15pm.
Match report from AFC Ely, written by Oliver Jennings