Sunday, 4 February 2018


ATT: 451

Last week Ilkeston were held to 1-1 draw at Nuneaton and we didn't have to wait long before the re-match.

There were a couple of surprises in the team selection.  Tim Hopkinson got a start in place of Montel Gibson and Jamie Walker was played just behind the front two.

Ilkeston started on the front foot with Walker coming close and Hopkinson hitting the bar but it was Nuneaton who took the lead.  Brennan King had already made one mazy run into the box and when he tried for a second time Tom Marshall slipped as he was about to clear leaving King with an easy finish.

The Robins continued to press though but were often struggling with not having any width.  The new formation wasn't working, we was missing Walkers magical left foot whipping in the crosses. With half and hour played we won a free-kick just outside the box and up stepped Tom Marshall to redeem his earlier slip and curl the ball beyond the keeper.

It got better just before the break as Walker was kicked with a high boot in the area and he stepped up to score the resultant penalty.  Just.  The ball deflected off the keeper and it slowly rolled in.  They all count though :-)

At the stroke of half-time Deakin had to make a great flying save to prevent an equaliser from Nuneaton.

HALF-TIME Ilkeston 2 Nuneaton Griff 1

In the second half the players started to grow into the new formation.  Billy Bennett begain putting in some great balls from the left and Ben Morris was doing the same on the right.

Nuneaton had a shout for a penalty themselves but their player was booked for diving.  If only we had this ref in the last home game!

Jordan Wheatly, who was having a great game in the centre of midfield, found himself with some space outside the box and let fly with a screamer that gave the keeper no chance.  This was the breathing space that Ilkeston needed.

However, they made things that little bit harder for themselves a few minutes later.  Alex Marshall, who was not having a great game, showed his frustration with one silly challenge too much and the ref sent him off.

Now usually when a team goes down to 10 men they park the bus,  Not Ilkeston.  From this moment on Ilkeston stepped up a gear and played as if they had an extra man.  Walker in partuclar suddenly got involved in everything.

Morris put in a brilliant cross but Hopkinson saw his shot brilliantly saved.  He only had to wait another minute before he did get his goal though.  Bennett crossed in a free-kick and Hopkinson deftly headed it into the back of the net to make it 4-1.

Hopkinson should have scored his second moments later as he slid in to knock the ball into the net but he was a fraction too slow.  It was his last action as he was replaced by Gibson.

The onslaught continued.  Morris came close, Walker had a shot saved and Gibson went just wide.  In stoppage time Gibson nutmegged the keeper, ran round him but as he was about to knock it into an empty net Nuneaton's number 5 managed to stretch out a leg and knock it out for a corner.

FT Ilkeston 4 Nuneaton Griff 1
MOM: Tom Marshall

I'll be honest, I didn't like the new formation for most of this game but when you win 4-1 I can't really complain.  It was incredible how much better we played when we went down to 10 men.  I'm sure Alex will be gutted with his sending off and will now miss the next 3 games including the DSC semi-final at Alfreton (which is in Alfreton Matt 😉)  This will, of course, mean that Tim will get more game time and he's already proved to be up to the task.


Sunday, 14 January 2018


This is going to be tough to write without it sounding like sour grapes but here goes...

Both teams came into this six-pointer with near identical records.  Both sides had won 15 drew 3 and lost 4.  Atherstone had a better goal difference (thanks mainly to their 13-0 demolition of Uttoxeter).  Ilkeston were on a fantastic winning streak of 14 games.  So we were all set for a great game.  Shame the man in charge had other ideas.

Ilkeston started the brighter and were on the front foot for the first 20 minutes.  Alex Marshall really should have scored however his shot was somehow stopped at point blank range by George Woodward, the Atherstone keeper.

Jordan Wheatley then got ruthlessly brought down by Mark Williams as he made a run into the Atherstone half.  This then sparked a bit of handbags which resulted in Williams and Marshall being booked.  This seemed to be the turning point in the half as Ilkeston then lost the momentum and the visitors came more into the game.  This also coincided with the ref starting to play "look at me" by blowing his whistle for absolutley anything and in most cases nothing.

Ilkeston then thought they had scored.  Walker swung in a corner, the players claimed it had crossed the line, the ref seemed to point at the centre spot, the players celebrated, the ref then decided it was actually a foul on the keeper and disallowed the goal.

From the free kick Atherstone attacked and when Naughton threw himself down to the ground in the area the ref, incredibly, decided to give them a penalty.  Naughton brushed down his swimming trunks and scored from the spot.

HALF-TIME Ilkeston 0 Atherstone 1

Five minutes into the second half and Atherstone doubled their lead.  This time the ref wasn't involved.  Chris Shaw was caught in possession allowing Mitch Thomson to run through and score.

The ref continued to make strange and contentious decisions.  From overruling the linesman when he dared to give Ilkeston a throw-in, to giving free-kicks when invisible players were fouled, to even showing an Atherstone player two yellow cards for dissent but letting him stay on the pitch.

Montel Gibson gave the home side hope when he crashed home a volley from inside the area.  Ilkeston pressed hard for the equaliser, Gibson saw a header go just over and Tom Marshall (who was having an excellent game) hit the crossbar with a thunderous effort.

In the end though time ran out and the vital three points went to Atherstone.  Atherstone looked dangerous and it's easy to see why they are in the top 5.  However, we deserved at least a point out of this game.  Ilkeston shaded about 70 per cent of the game, Atherstone 30 per cent but the ref overshadowed the whole bloody thing.

FULL-TIME Ilkeston 1 Atherstone 2

The winning streak was bound to come to an end at some point but we now need to dust ourselves down and start another run beginning next week at Walsall Wood.  A win there and it's all to play for again.