To coin a commonly used phrase, ‘Football is a funny old game,’ and that has certainly been highlighted this week.
It won’t be lost to anyone who was at both the Salford and Stamford games just how different the two performances were and while it was disappointing the Robins couldn’t follow up Saturday’s win with another good display on Monday, there was perhaps an air of inevitability about it, or at least that those kinds of performances are going to happen every now and again with a team so young.
Saturday saw the youngsters relish facing a very good side in front of a big crowd and that reflected in their display.
Monday was a much more subdued NMG and against a side that plays very differently to Salford, the youngsters couldn’t cope, not helped by being 2-0 down so early on.
The fact is, the team has an average age of about 19 and for every game where they excel themselves, there are bound to be two or three where they struggle in a league like the NPL.
Over a season, that would give them problems but as we now seem to be in a situation where Ilkeston are experimenting somewhat until the end of the campaign, perhaps it’s something fans will just have to get used to.
I was quite critical of the players in my match report from Monday and whilst I don’t always like being my usual ‘tell it how it is’ self when so many young players are involved, I always base my opinions on the standards a team has set itself and, having played so well on Saturday, the display 48 hours later wasn’t good enough.
Now Ilkeston will head to Manchester to face Salford again and given the last week, it’s anyone’s guess as to which Robins team will turn up.
Whatever happens, this is a big learning curve for a lot of these young players and they can only benefit from it in the long term. Whether you question Ilkeston’s current methods or not, it’s good to see youth getting this chance at a good level of the game and here’s hoping there will be more days like last Saturday to come before the end of the season.