ILKESTON FC fans will get another chance to see the club’s academy in competitive action at the New Manor Ground on Monday night - and it won’t cost them a penny.
The Central Conference Reserve League clash with Worcester City will have no admission fee charged to get in, with new club chairman Dave Mantle hoping to build on already encouraging attendances for the academy matches.
Mr Mantle said: “Kevin Wilson and Darren Caskey are doing a fantastic job with our 28 apprentices and I think it’s true to say that the lads are progressing even better than we could have hoped.
“Almost without exception, they are improving week by week and I’m really keen to encourage Ilkeston people to come and see for themselves that the future of our club is in good hands.
“We have to be realistic, of course, and the majority of these apprentices probably won’t make it into our first-team.
“But it is entirely up to them to make the most of their opportunities and we’re confident that some of them will have a big part to play with Ilkeston FC over the next few years.
“That’s what running the academy is all about. The lads get a couple of years of further education and that stands them in good stead, regardless of what the future holds for them.
“And from the club’s point of view, it’s a marvellous opportunity to develop our own players.”
Monday’s clash with Worcester will kick-off at 7.45pm, and is the next game in a division which, although small, is proving a good test for the Robins youngsters who have scored a hatful of goals and made light work of many of their opponents so far.
Hopes that Ilkeston FC would by now know the level at which they will be entered back into the non-league football pyramid appear to have been dashed by the Football Association’s leagues committee, who seem keen to wait until geographic issues are resolved once the current season is over before the constitutions of each division are finalised.
But Mr Mantle is nevertheless pleased with the progress being made off the pitch.
He added: “Although it is likely to be a few more months before we discover what league we will be competing in next season, things are starting to gather pace.
“We’re delighted that the new Ilkeston FC Supporters’ Group has been successfully launched and I’m looking now for evidence that people intend to really get behind the club and play their part in putting this town back on the footballing map.”
For more on the newly-formed Ilkeston FC Supporters’ Group, see page four of this week’s Advertiser.