Stowmarket Town extend lead at the top of the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division with big win over Ely City
There was no case of After the Lord Mayor's Show this afternoon as Stowmarket Town dished out a 7-1 hammering to Ely City at Greens Meadow.
Professional and ruthless is how best to describe the Old Gold & Blacks, who seven days earlier had been celebrating club history after reaching the last 16 of the Buildbase FA Vase for the first time ever.
It took the hosts a mere 13 seconds to open their account for the afternoon. Josh Mayhew won the flick on to release strike partner Christy Finch and he made no mistake with a low finish inside Harry Reynolds’ near post.
A second goal followed within five minutes as Mayhew went from provider to scorer. He latched on to Jack Ainsley’s flighted pass into the left channel and having been allowed to cut inside, then executed a perfect right footed finish for his 26th goal of the season.
A rare Ely foray forward in the 13th minute saw Stowmarket goalkeeper James Bradbrook rush off his line to thwart Harry French, but at the other end they continued to struggle with Stow’s movement and it was little surprise when the home team added a third with 20 minutes on the clock.
Tom Bullard rose highest to head Robbie Sweeney’s left-wing corner goalwards, with an alert Mayhew then diverting the ball beyond Reynolds from six yards out.
It took just six more minutes for the prolific marksman to complete his hat-trick via another header. On this occasion he had to generate plenty of power to get the better of Reynolds after Bullard had kept Dean Bowditch’s deep free-kick alive.
However, worryingly for Stowmarket that was the last of Mayhew’s meaningful involvement on proceedings as injury prompted his withdrawal in the 37th minute. With a trip to Wroxham in the last 16 of the Buildbase FA Vase three weeks away, Stowmarket will be hoping that it is nothing too serious.
Nevertheless, even without their main frontman there was no let up before the break. The fifth goal arrived in the 41st minute courtesy of Jack Ainsley, who calmly sent Reynolds the wrong way from the penalty spot following a harsh handball decision awarded against Joe Brannan.
As is often the case when the outcome is decided at the break, the team in the ascendancy go through the motions and to a degree, Stowmarket were a little guilty of that.
A case in point came in the 61st minute when Luke Read dawdled in possession just inside his own half and was robbed by Harry McGregor. Ely's number seven proceeded to drive forward and then when he had got 25 yards from goal, produced a curling effort that flew into the net via the post.
The visitors' goal seemed to shake Stowmarket back into life. The tempo was raised and the slick movement off the ball – with Sweeney at the forefront – returned.
Their sixth goal – scored in the 67th minute – was perhaps the pick of the bunch. Ollie Brown got forward well from right-back to thread a pass through to Sweeney, whose lay off was inch perfect for Finch to stroke home his second of the afternoon from the edge of the box.
Sweeney went on to spurn a couple of good chances to score the goal his lively performance deserved before he racked up another assist three minutes from time, sending over a free-kick from the left that substitute Leon Ottley-Gooch headed home.
The win has seen Stowmarket extend their lead at the summit to 13 points over second-placed Wroxham, who have two games in hand. Ely, meanwhile, remain 18th with a two-point gap to Hadleigh United in the one relegation place.
Stowmarket: Bradbrook, Brown, Dunbar, Ainsley (Ottley-Gooch 74'), Bullard, Jefford, Sweeney, Read, Finch, Mayhew (Quantrell 37'), Bowditch (Clarke 56')
Ely: Reynolds, Crisp, Simpson, Darling, Walter, Brannan, McGregor, Bullinaria, French, Harnwell, Harvey (Ince 46')
* For reaction from both camps, see this week's Free Press and Journal print editions.