Ilkeston FC’s academy side produced a stirring comeback to dispose of Northampton Town at the New Manor Ground on Wednesday night and progress to the second round proper of the FA Youth Cup.
After being 3-1 down at half-time and then going 4-3 down in second-half stoppage time, the Robins got level again to force an extra 30 minutes where they put the Cobblers to the sword in style.
This match showed just what value the Ilkeston FC academy holds and against a talented outfit, whose first team competes in League Two, the Robins held their own throughout.
Things started badly. The visitors, who were wearing Ilkeston’s orange away kit due to their own strip clashing with the referee, threatened several times early on, captain Connor Roberts put them in front on 18 minutes with a stunning free-kick from 25 yards out.
Che Adams and Callum Chettle both went close to levelling the scores but it was Northampton who would stretch their lead on 37 minutes when Callum Powell finished well following a break through midfield by Ivan Towey.
Ilkeston netted their first goal on 44 minutes, Ryan Osborne nodding home from close range after Northampton failed to clear in a crowded penalty area.
But just as it seemed that goal might have got the Robins a crucial lifeline before the break, Towey added a third for Northampton with a curling shot over keeper Chris Howard in stoppage time.
It looked to be an uphill struggle for Ilkeston but they came out strongly for the second-half and were the better side for the rest of the encounter.
Osborne netted his second just short of the hour mark after a good break from Rai Simons, the low shot squeezing in at the far post.
The Robins were suddenly rampant, Osborne then shooting just wide, Karum Shankar’s effort from distance tipped over the bar by keeper Ben Heath, Curtis Burrows’ curler suffering a similar fate and Chettle’s long range shot pushed wide.
Towey was then red carded for an off the ball incident to reduce the Cobblers to ten men, and sure enough the equaliser came with five minutes of the 90 left, Simons stabbing home from close range to send a healthy crowd into raptures.
Extra-time loomed but not before high drama in injury-time.
First, Northampton looked to have stolen the tie in the 92nd minute when sub Dodzi Agbenu skilfully hooked in a cross with his heel to stun the home side.
But with virtually the last kick of normal time and with five minutes of stoppage time played, wing back Luke Shaw got on the end of Burrows’ excellent cross to turn the ball home via the crossbar from two yards out and the extra 30 minutes were indeed to be required.
It took just 40 seconds of extra-time for Ilkeston to take the lead for the first time and they were never to relinquish it.
Osborne was the man on target again to complete his hat-trick, a low shot squirming under Heath and dribbling over the line to make it 5-4.
Northampton were starting to look very tired and a sixth goal arrived on 103 minutes that effectively ended the contest, Simons beating a defender and then lobbing Heath superbly for his second of the night.
The final goal came two minutes into the second period of extra-time when sub Goran Seymour turned in a cross from close range and that was that - the Robins seeing out the remainder of the tie with ease.
The win means Ilkeston will now host Accrington Stanley in the second round, the fixture expected to take place in the week commencing November 18.
Ilkeston: Howard, Shaw, Burrows, Wright (c), Edwards, Holt, Shankar (Seymour 72), Chettle, Simons (Williams 110), Osborne (Facey 102), Adams. Subs not used: Doyle, Carlisle.
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter: @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (Twitter: @sportsphotorob)