As anti-climaxes go, this was up there with the best of them.
With all the noise made by Ilkeston FC’s hierarchy about how keen the club was to have a good FA Cup run this season, it would have been nice if the players had read the script.
Instead they put in a tepid display that didn’t deserve to see them progress, the only highlight being Aaron Webster’s 70th minute goal that should have seen a subsequent bombardment of the visitors’ penalty area in search of an equaliser. It didn’t.
Credit goes to Belper who did everything right, taking their chances well and refusing to simply sit on their lead at any point and invite the Robins to attack them.
With several former Ilkeston representatives in their side and a scalp from a higher division there to be taken, the Nailers had plenty of cause to be up for this game and they were from the off.
Their energy and application caused the hosts immediate problems, although it was Ilkeston who had the better early chances with Aaron Hooton and Laurie Wilson both seeing flicks from corners go wide, Wilson also putting a free-kick over the top from 25 yards.
Belper then took the lead on 17 minutes and it owed a lot to the work of the impressive Glyn Cotton down the right, his burst to the byline ending with a testing centre into the six yard box which was made doubly dangerous once keeper Rob Peet had only palmed the ball out to Sam Duncum and one of the ‘ex-Robins’ contingent blasted it home via a defender on the line.
Duncum even went so far as to keep his celebration to a minimum in true modern day football style.
Clear cut chances were few and far between although Gary Ricketts, in the centre of goal, somehow deflected Kane Richards’ cross several yards wide rather than into the net on 19 minutes, while Jon Froggatt headed Duncum’s free-kick wide at the other end.
Kane Richards looked Ilkeston’s biggest threat throughout and he was just wide on the stroke of half-time after cutting inside, but the Nailers would hold the advantage at the break.
Ilkeston still looked most likely to score in the second-half but without any decent spells of pressure to really turn the screw.
Hooton, Reid and Kane Richards all saw efforts go close, while Matt Richards, usually relied on to take control in such situations, was largely anonymous.
The killer second goal came on 61 minutes, as Duncum’s trickery on the left ended with a cross that found Shaun Tuton in oodles of space six yards out and he headed past Peet.
Ilkeston initially responded well, James Reid hitting the base of a post with a low shot and then Matt Richards heading Webster’s cross over the top, before the goal the Robins desperately needed came on 71 minutes when Webster beat a defender 25 yards out before edging forward and hitting a low shot into the corner of the net.
That should have signalled a nervous last 20 minutes for Belper, but aside from Matt Richards firing just wide from 30 yards out the Robins never looked likely to get an equaliser, indeed Belper’s Cotton and Simon Harrison nearly made it safe at the other end.
And so it was that the Robins’ road to Wembley had ended before they’d left the roundabout, while Belper marched on to face Daventry Town on September 28.
Saturday, September 14, 2013:
Ilkeston: 1 Rob Peet 2 Rob Kozluk 3 Aaron Webster 4 Laurie Wilson (c) 5 Matt Baker 6 Ellis Storey 7 Kane Richards (Chris Palmer 89) 8 James Reid 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Aaron Hooton (Rai Simons 62) 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: Danny Gordon, Callum Chettle, Jason Stokes, Ryan Swift, Antwan Russell
Belper: 1 David Ratcliffe 2 Lee Thompson 3 Chris Adam 4 Glyn Cotton 5 Richard Adams 6 Shaun Roulston 7 Colin Marrison 8 Steve Warne (c) 9 Jon Froggatt (Mark Ward 90) 10 Shaun Tuton (Jamie Jackson 90+4) 11 Sam Duncum (Simon Harrison 74). Subs not used: Joe Conkleton, Mick Godber Att: 515 Ref: C Taylor Star Robin: Kane Richards
Report by Mark Duffy
Photos by Rob Stephenson (www.robertstephensonphotography.co.uk)