In what has been a long time in the making, AFC Ely finally took to the field of the Paradise, their home venue.
Having already played 13 games (10 in pre-season and 3 in the league) before kick-off, the home side would have wanted to christen the Paradise with 3 points. On an afternoon fraught with heavy rain and even heavier tackles, the hosts prevailed in a highly competitive fixture that cemented their place atop of the league and made them the early pacesetters.
Neither team could really land any meaningful blows in the early exchanges of the match as loose passes and heavy touches plagued both AFC Ely and Milton respectively. The home side carried more threat than the visitors in the final third, however, AFC Ely often came unstuck when the ball made its way up the pitch. The referees whistle personified the scrappy nature of the match and the rate at which the referee stopped play was only worsened by conditions that were auspicious to a slide tackle or two. In a match that was inundated with stoppages, it was becoming hard to see where a goal would come from.
Not only was it AFC Ely who struggled to see where a goal would come from, but it was also the referee when he failed to spot the ball cross the line by a foot. Cameron Laing’s stride into the box and subsequent conversion (or non-conversion in the eyes of the referee) of a tap-in opportunity went unnoticed and the score remained tied at nil-nil. The players of AFC Ely were understandably perturbed as they left the field for the half-time break in an exasperated manner.
The second-half provided a clean slate for the team representing Ely as they put their misfortunes in the rear view mirror and looked to push on in search of a breakthrough. That search didn’t go on for long as AFC Ely’s captain broke the deadlock with an effort from twenty yards out. Perhaps the Milton goalkeeper had his view obstructed by a defender or maybe the skippers’ strike was unexpected, but the ball was positioned in such an area where you would expect the goalkeeper to make the save: nevertheless, ultimately he did not and AFC Ely had scored their first home league goal of the season.
AFC Ely had started the second-half vehemently. Milton, despite remaining competitive throughout, were beginning to look jaded and coupled with the deflation of conceding, the visitors looked defeated. This all played into the home sides’ hands as Milton became exposed at the back in their pursuit of restoring parity.
With inordinate amounts of space to run into, it was no surprise that AFC Ely’s lead was doubled by a man who thrives on such openness in the opposition’s defensive third. Laid on a plate by Max Wright with a perfectly weighted ball, Conor Gibbs found himself positioned on the right-hand side of the penalty area. Unleashing his shot prematurely, Gibbs’ effort was tame and directed straight at the goalkeeper. In what should have been a routine stop for the Milton goalkeeper, the ball evaded his grasp and much to his dismay slipped beneath his palms and squirmed through his legs, trickling across the line. The only thing pertinent to AFC Ely was that their lead had been extended.
As the final whistle grew closer, the home side were given the chance to match last weekend’s result when Frazer Jennings was brought down inside the Milton box. Will Cooper’s conversion of the spot kick put AFC Ely three goals to the good and with little time remaining, practically secured 3 points for the home side.
Full-time result: AFC Ely 3-0 Milton A Team.
AFC Ely Man of the Match: Bailey Payne.
AFC Ely are back on the road as they make the trip to Great Paxton to take on their reserve team – kick off is at 3:00pm.
Press release from AFC Ely
Written by Oliver Jennings