Duffers’ Diaries: What factors could affect the Robins’ hopes?

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Most have my columns over the last few weeks have centred around similar themes - namely talking about Ilkeston FC’s unbeaten run, how well the the young squad is coping and whether we dare believe a title could come at the end of it all.

Those themes remain, of course, with it now being 15 games since the last defeat and Ilkeston being firmly among the favourites to finish in top spot despite there still being a large number of games to be played.

There’s an air of positivity around the NMG at the moment and that will be crucial going forward and particularly important to maintain even if a defeat dare creep in at some point soon.

I thought I’d look at the positives and potential negatives that might come into play before the end of the season.

First, time to play devil’s advocate. What could be the problems Ilkeston might face in their quest to be the best?

Well, there are 19 league games still to play and on top of that a maximum of five more cup ties should the Robins go all the way in both the Doodson Sport League Cup and the Derbyshire Senior Cup.

Chuck in the potential for a few more postponements too and fixture congestion might pose a threat at some point, although that’s a problem several teams might face.

As things stand, the title is actually in Ilkeston’s hands, though that’s bound to change a few times before the campaign is out. Can the young squad cope with the pressure that will bring? Probably, but it could be a hindrance too.

Now for the positives. Current leaders Skelmersdale could, in theory, be picked off fairly soon given Ilkeston have seven games in hand on them and the two sides also play each other on March 28.

Of the other main threats, FC United still have FA Trophy commitments and historically have thrown title-winning chances away late on in campaigns before.

Ilkeston have three games in hand on third-placed Buxton and are a point ahead of them, whilst Curzon Ashton have won just once in the last six weeks.

Workington are flying and could well be a big threat, but Ilkeston also have three points and a game in hand on them, as well as two games between the sides still to come.

Even Blyth could stake a claim despite now being 16th, but their huge backlog of games could prove a problem.

One big factor could be fitness. Many part-time teams can tire as time goes on and the pressure increases. The fact most of Ilkeston’s squad train full-time could prove crucial as their stamina, both mentally and physically, should be stronger than everyone else’s.

There are some big games coming up, with Ilkeston still to play many of those around them.

Quite a few of those games are away and Ilkeston have only lost twice on the road. Keep that up and turn a few of the many home draws into wins and who knows just how thrilling the rest of this campaign might be.

Twitter: @DuffersSport