New Years Day defeat for March
A CROWD of more than 200 were drawn to March Town United s home derby with Ely City on New Year s Day but it was the visiting supporters who left in good spirits. The 2-1 defeat to Ely leaves March third from bottom of the Ridgeons First Division with a c
A CROWD of more than 200 were drawn to March Town United's home derby with Ely City on New Year's Day but it was the visiting supporters who left in good spirits.
The 2-1 defeat to Ely leaves March third from bottom of the Ridgeons First Division with a crucial match at Godmanchester Rovers, who are propping up the table, on Saturday.
Hares co-manager Alan Russell was left disappointed by his side's defeat, in which an early own goal put March onto the back foot.
An Ely free kick inside the first two minutes led to a mix up in the Hares defence between keeper Adam Wright and striker James Patrick, who collided and allowed the ball to roll into the unguarded net.
It was the worst possible start for March but the game opened up and both teams created chances.
On 11 minutes, Patrick almost made amends for his involvement in the opening goal but headed a cross from the left wing just wide of the post.
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Two minutes later, Ely's Nick Impey found himself through on goal and around Wright but a superb goal-line clearance from Steve Thompson blocked his shot.
Just after the half-hour mark Impey had a sight of goal again but Wright produced a fine save to deny him.
The home side weathered the storm and were back on level terms two minutes before the break. A corner from the left found Luke Pepper, whose shot form 10 yards ricocheted into the path of Thompson and he smashed the ball home from close range.
Despite getting back into the game, March faced continuous pressure in the second half and City made dangerous raids into the Hares' defence.
A long range effort hit the post before skipper Andy Chatters fired in a low ball across the face of goal, which evaded everyone and just missed the far post.
But the visitors made the breakthrough midway through the half when Simon Warren's flick on the edge of the box and Robbie Mason drilled the ball past Wright and into the net via the underside of the bar.
Chatters' cross hit the top of the bar on 28 minutes but March pushed forward and Pepper's goal-bound shot from 20 yards was deflected up and over the bar.
With time running out, March almost forced an equaliser. Paul Shafer was played in on the left but he pulled his shot wide of the post.
Ely claimed they had scored a third in stoppage time when Chatters' free kick beat Wright but rebounded out. The visitors' claims that the ball had hit the stanchion fell on deaf ears as the officials correctly adjudged that the ball had hit the post.
However, it proved to be academic as City, now third in the league, saw out time to clinch the points.
Russell said: "I was disappointed that we didn't get something from the game and I think we deserved a point. We battled really well and I can't fault the lads' commitment against a very good Ely side."
As well as a disappointing result, the match also served up defensive injury worries for Russell.
Paul Cousins picked up a hamstring injury and is a major doubt for the Godmanchester game while the March boss will be hoping that Steve Thompson can shake off a knock.
Russell said: "We are going to Godmanchester looking for the three points and then we have a run of home games. It is a crucial stage of the season and we need a full-strength squad.
"I haven't considered new signings because I felt that the majority of players were back to fitness but if we continue to pick up injuries in key positions, I may have to reconsider.