Home start for Robins as fixtures announced

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ILKESTON FC will begin life in non-league football with a home clash against Goole AFC in the Evo-Stik Division One South on August 13.

The club’s fixtures were announced on Wednesday morning and the home draw will be expected to draw a bumper crowd for the Robins’ first ever competitive match.

Manager Kevin Wilson expressed his delight that the opening game will be at the New Manor Ground.

He said: “When you actually see the fixtures in black and white, it really brings it home that we are back in business.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that we are at home on the opening day of the season and I hope it inspires the people of Ilkeston to turn it into a really special day. I wonder what the chances are of filling the ground?”

Hucknall Town will provide Christmas and New Year Bank Holiday opposition, with the first local derby of the season on Monday, August 29 when Ilkeston will pay a visit to Derbyshire rivals Belper Town.

Grantham Town, with whom Ilkeston Town formed a great rivalry under Keith Alexander’s reign in particular, will be the opposition on December 10 as well as on the final day of the campaign.

Cup disappointment

But one other feature of the fixture list is blank dates due to Ilkeston FC being denied entry into the 2011/12 FA Cup competition.

Strict guidelines mean new clubs cannot enter in their first season, and they also apply to the FA Youth Cup.

The club will, however, be able to compete in the FA Trophy - non league football’s premier cup competition.

Chairman Dave Mantle said: “It’s obviously a major blow because the FA Cup is the competition that gets everyone excited and potentially can generate a lot of money.

“Apparently you cannot just arrive on the scene as a new club and go straight into the FA Cup. I can accept that but I just wish we had been made aware of it at the time.

“Equally, we’re really disappointed that the youth team will miss out because it would have been great experience for the Academy lads.”

Regarding the resultant breaks in the fixture list, Wilson added: “There’s no point in moaning about the fact that we’re not in the Cup this season but I am concerned that those lengthy breaks could cause us to lose momentum. That’s something we will have to address.”

Lincoln City

The second of Ilkeston FC’s pre-season friendlies will take place this weekend when Lincoln City visit on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off.

The match follows the 2-2 draw with Notts County on July 2, and Imps boss Steve Tilson is expected to bring a strong side to the New Manor Ground in what will be their first pre-season friendly.

Lincoln were relegated from the Football League in May.

Robins arrange Forest friendly date - see page 31