Great Yarmouth Town 2, Ely City 4
Ely City ran out comfortable winners away to Great Yarmouth but two controversial red cards for the visitors in as many minutes will remain the talking point.
Captain and goalkeeper Lee Pacey followed Richard Chaswick in being given their marching orders by the referee.
Before the farcical incident, Ben Gammon and a Chadwick penalty opened the scoring for the visitors, with further strikes from Lewis McDonald and Gammon being cancelled out by Charlie McAra and new signing Andre Costa.
Fernando Vide also missed a penalty in a match that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
It was a far from perfect start for Ely, with most of the visitor's players being trapped in traffic, delaying kick-off by 15 minutes.
When the game eventually began, Bloaters' Mike Derbyshire made four changes to the side that faced Haverhill. Jordan Forbes, Leighton Crux and Fernando Vide returned to the starting 11 in place of Sam Giacomelli, Lewis Popham and Diego Fernandes, the latter dropping to the bench.
Anis Nailli stood in for regular goalkeeper Ben Cudden who was out with an illness.
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The Yarmouth keeper was tested early on, after two minutes a throw fell to Chris Sterecki whose acrobatic volley forced a reaction stop from Nailli to turn the ball over the bar.
Ely started the better side and made their early pressure count on 11 minutes. Lewis McDonald's deep cross found Chadwick whose low goal bound shot was poked home by Gammon.
Sterecki fired the ball over the bar after rounding Nailli soon after before Yarmouth produced their first attack, Barnden allowed to plant a header at visiting goalkeeper Pacey following good work from Bloaters' captain Callum Jones.
Despite Yarmouth trying to control an increasingly scrappy midfield, Ely got a second. Philip Watkins gave the referee no option after tripping Austen Diaper in the box, with Chadwick confidently firing the resulting penalty centrally into the goal.
On the half hour mark Ely broke from a Yarmouth corner. Jacob Bendsten's cross eluded Diaper and Sterecki at the far post before Chadwick was brought down by Micael Adamo on the edge of Yarmouth's box.
Chadwick seemed upset at his treatment by the midfielder, and it provoked the winger into a verbal retaliation too aggressive for the referee's liking – the harshest red card many will see all season.
That was until Ely's aggrieved captain and goalkeeper Pacey ran three-quarters the length of the pitch to offer his views on the unfolding situation. Two yellow cards were the most undeserving of punishments.
With no substitute goalkeeper travelling with the visitor's squad, striker Diaper filled in the gap between the sticks.
It was difficult for many to remember that it was a free kick to Ely that was the spark for the questionable officiating decisions. From it, McDonald's curled shot was spilt by Nailli and rolled over the white line, justice seemingly done.
But the damage was already done, with the referee failing to regain control of the 20 remaining players, both teams' dugouts and supporters, often blowing the whistle for fouls that would otherwise go unpunished.
The nine men of Ely looked to recover quickly after the half time break, setting up a defensive wall on the edge of their own penalty box.
Yarmouth's two-man advantage told early in the second half, with Vide and substitutes Marian Jobbagy and Andre Costa firing shots that found their way through to stand in keeper Diaper.
Bridgeman's stung the hands of Nailli from 35 yards before Yarmouth won a penalty of their own, good work from Vide forcing Parkinson into bringing down the winger.
Vide picked himself up but couldn't hit the target from 12 yards out, hitting the inside of the post with Diaper diving the wrong way. Jobbagy on the rebound had his chance smothered by Diaper.
That proved costly for the hosts as Ely came back into the game and promptly won a free kick, from it Nailli turned Adam Murray's powerful header onto the crossbar, the rebound falling to Gammon to cushion the ball home from three yards.
Eventually a two-man deficit told in the end as Ely understandably tired in the final ten minutes, Jobaggy's snap volley from Fernandes's cross palmed by Diaper into the path of McAra to slot under the keeper.
And with the game seconds into stoppage time McAra again involved, this time rolling the ball back to Costa to turn in on his debut.
• Great Yarmouth: Anis Nailli, Liam Williams, Philip Watkins, Callum Jones, Nathan Kemp (Marian Jobbagy, 54), Jordan Forbes, Micael Adamo (Andre Costa, 54), George Barnden, Leighton Crux, Charlie McAra, Fernando Vide (Diego Fernandes, 79). Unused Subs: Danny Burkle, David Hackleton.
Goals: McAra (88), Costa (90)
• Ely City: Lee Pacey, Lewis McDonald, Sam Parkinson, Adam Murray, Ben Lawrence, Jacob Bendsten, Chris Sterecki (Kenny Smith, 75), Josh Bridgeman, Richard Gammon (Florent Lechiualen, 79), Austen Diaper, Richard Chaswick.
Bookings: Pacey (34)
Sent Off: Chadwick (33), Pacey (34)
Goals: Gammon (11, 74), Chadwick (pen, 29), McDonald (37)