BUILDBASE FA VASE SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND: Ely City 4 Diss Town 2
As was the case when these two sides met in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division last season, Ely City and Diss Town produced a goal-fest at the Unwin Ground on Saturday afternoon.
Ely have since been promoted and it was the Premier Division outfit — with the recently-signed Kelvin Enaro playing a leading role — that edged the six-goal encounter to retain their interest in this term’s FA Vase.
For Diss, manager Ross Potter will rue a first half in which his mistake-ridden team shipped three goals, thus meaning that their improved display after the restart counted for little.
While the 22 players on show tried to adapt to the swirling Cambridgeshire wind, the opening exchanges provided very little to write home about.
However, that all changed in 11th minute when Ely took the lead, only to be pegged back less than 60 seconds later.
The Robins broke the deadlock after Alex Theobald nipped in on the blindside of Jack Tipple to squeeze a shot underneath George Macrae in the Diss goal, before the visitors raced up the other end to clinical effect with Shaun Hunsdon rounding Harry Reynolds to equalise.
This storyline continued as the half wore on, yet it was Ely that were more deadly when it mattered.
They regained the lead in the 23rd minute after unmarked captain James Seymour rose to power home Jamie Alsop’s corner, while four minutes before the break Enaro’s back-post header nestled in the net.
The Nigerian’s effort was initially ruled out for offside, but after consultation between the referee and his assistant a goal was awarded.
In contrast, Diss were left frustrated with Sam Page dragging wide after neat build-up play from Hunsdon, while Charlie Webb’s deflected strike was turned behind by Reynolds.
With a goal to his name, a confident-looking Enaro started the second half brightly and with a bit more composure he would have had a second in the 56th minute. A burst down the left flank took him away from the Diss defence, but after cutting inside on his stronger right foot, the winger blazed over.
Diss, perhaps with a Potter rollicking still ringing in their ears, began to make inroads after the hour mark and once Sam Bryant had been denied by Ash Walter’s block, they reduced the arrears in the 63rd minute.
The home defence failed to deal with Bryant’s corner and were duly punished by Solomon Pope’s downward header.
Now with the bit firmly between their teeth, 1994 Vase winners Diss went in pursuit of a third and game-levelling goal.
Ian Fancett’s free-kick was pushed clear by Reynolds, before Charlie Webb stung the keeper’s palms.
That goal never arrived, though, and it came as little surprise that Enaro was central to the moment that settled the outcome of the tie with five minutes left to play.
A corner from Ely substitute Mason Newman appeared to provide Macrae with a routine catch, but under pressure from Enaro the Diss custodian dropped the ball over the line.
Ely: Reynolds, Jeffrey, Alsop, Griffin, Saberton, Walter, Enaro (Williams 88), Seymour, Theobald, Shipp (Newman 69), Neal (Hunt 81)
Diss: Macrae, Pope (Bray 88), Fancett, Manning, Shadrack, Tipple, Page (Burroughs 75), Mackie (Cole 28), Webb, Hunsdon, Bryant
Man of the Match: Kelvin Enaro
* See this week’s Soham & Ely Journal and Diss Express for match reaction from the respective managers