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Ely nab derby bragging rights

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He may have been laid up in bed through illness, but more of the team spirit that manager Brady Stone has instilled at Ely City was on show during Tuesday evening’s 2-0 derby win over Newmarket Town.

ALL TOGETHER: Ely celebrate Sam Reed's opener
ALL TOGETHER: Ely celebrate Sam Reed's opener

Last season’s Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup winners dominated much of the first half at the Ellgia Stadium but they could not convert any of their chances, with Sam Reed particularly guilty of spurning a golden opportunity.

And when Newmarket matched them up at the start of the second half tactically there was a period where it looked as though the hosting Robins would pay for their wastefulness.

However, they rallied as a unit and after Sam Reed atoned for his earlier miss by neatly lobbing in the opener in the 63rd minute, Ely struck again just three minutes later through Lewis Hook to make it two wins from two at the start of the new Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division season.

There is not too much that goalscorer Sam Reed has not experienced during an impressive non-league career, winning numerous honours and reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup twice with Bury Town and Biggleswade Town.

ON TARGET: Sam Reed goes for goal
ON TARGET: Sam Reed goes for goal

But even he has known few squads to be as tight knit as the one inside the Ely dressing room.

“Brady needed a hand a couple of years ago when Ely had a good Vase run so I decided to come over,” he said.

“It is one of the best team spirits I have ever been involved with. We just all love it over here.

“There are teams paying much more money than us, but you will not get a team spirit like ours.

“We fight for each other and put our bodies on the line for one another.

“We do it for the manager as well because he brings so much to it.

“We were on top for around 75 minutes tonight, which for us to do against a team like Newmarket is fantastic and it shows what we are about.”

Much of Ely’s dominance during the opening 45 minutes was down to performances of Reed’s elder brother Lee and Jamie Thurlbourne in the centre of midfield.

Both were clever in possession – something that was evident in the 27th minute when Thurlbourne’s trusty left foot picked out the lively Deakan Napier wide on the right.

The winger worked his way towards the byline from where he drilled in a cross for Sam Reed.

Everyone inside the ground was waiting for the net to bulge, but with the goal at his mercy, the striker somehow managed to find the grateful hands of Newmarket’s Alex Archer.

The visiting goalkeeper showed good reflexes to deny Sam Reed again five minutes later, while moments before he used his feet to thwart Nick Heap.

CLOSE EYE: Journal's Man of the Match Lee Reed marks Rhys Thorpe
CLOSE EYE: Journal's Man of the Match Lee Reed marks Rhys Thorpe

Forays into Ely territory were rare during the first half for Newmarket, who came closest when Rhys Thorpe curled wide from distance with 34 minutes on the clock.

Something needed to change for the Jockeys to get a foothold on proceedings and to player-manager Michael Shinn’s credit, he and his squad concocted a plan during the interval that initially paid off.

They shut down the likes of Lee Reed and Thurlbourne quickly, which in turn starved dangermen Sam Reed and Napier of service.

Newmarket also posed a threat in attack and Joe Bennett should have done better with an effort from just inside the box, but he fired over after Blake Kicks had beaten Adam Dalby out wide.

And within two minutes, that miss looked all the more crucial as Sam Reed broke the deadlock.

His brother was the creator, picking up the ball midway inside the Ely half and producing a perfectly-weighted pass over the top of the Newmarket defence.

Sam was already on the move before Lee had executed the pass, allowing him to beat an onrushing Archer to the ball and smartly lift it in from 20 yards out.

CROWDED OUT: Three Ely players surround Rhys Thorpe
CROWDED OUT: Three Ely players surround Rhys Thorpe

Reflecting on the goal, Sam said: “I tend to always score the hard ones and miss the easy ones!

“With Lee it is down to years of playing together.

“We just look at each other’s eyes and we know something is coming.

“I know he has got the quality, so it is then down to me to stick it away, which thankfully I did this time.”

Ely had their tails up now and they made the points safe with their next attack when Newmarket fell asleep at a corner, allowing Napier to flick the ball into the path of Hook to fire home.

The away side, who beat Great Yarmouth Town 4-2 on the opening day, came close to setting up a tense finish two minutes from time through Thorpe’s header, but the ball hit the underside of the crossbar and was cleared.

After the final whistle, Shinn conceded that his men did not deserve anything from the evening.

“We did not really get going and were a bit flat,” he said.

“We still had some good chances but did we deserve to win the game? No, 100 per cent we did not deserve it.

“It was not through a lack of trying and effort, it just did not happen.

“We will not make any excuses, Ely deserved to win the game.”

Ely: Jeckells, Dalby, Alsop, Brannan, Williams, L Reed, Napier, Hook, S Reed (Thulborn 83), Heap (Jeffrey 66), Thurlbourne (Simpson 66)

Newmarket: Archer, Partridge, Whiting, Shinn, Antoine (Murphy 79), Alleyne, Kicks, Watson, Thorpe, Avis, Bennett

Attendance: 165

Journal Man of the Match - Lee Reed: Tidy in possession and set up the first goal