Ilkeston Town’s first ever home game ended in disappointment as Heath Hayes ran out winners on Saturday.
For a club only formed six weeks ago, there inevitably remains work to do as things continue to take shape, but this display in front of a big crowd will have frustrated boss Steve Chettle.
Defensive errors proved costly as Heath Hayes did a fine job of ignoring what was written on the script, taking their chances well and defending resolutely too.
For Ilkeston there is clearly much to do, and although there were some bright moments dotted throughout the game, team cohesion isn’t quite there yet and patience will be required.
The visitors had the first effort of note, defender Kieran Nelson flicking the ball too high after a corner wasn’t cleared.
There was then a nervous moment for young Robins keeper Curtis Hall, signed on work experience terms from Notts County. Mitch Teece hit a shot from outside the penalty area which Hall was behind but he spilled the ball, thankfully just wide of the post.
The first good Robins opening came 15 minutes in. Good work from Greg Simmons freed captain Jamie Walker down the left and his cross was put just over the bar by Micah Edwards.
Walker then fired past the post on 25 after a ball had been cleared back to him following a corner.
The game was somewhat sloppy, approach work often wasted by a bad pass and mistakes occurring all over the pitch, one nearly proving crucial when Town defender Charlie Jemson nudged the ball past the onrushing Hall but thankfully he was able to get back to clear the danger.
Simmons, who was proving a handful for the visitors, fired just wide on 32 minutes as the Robins began to get more of a foothold, although at the other end Teece shot low at Hall who held the effort.
Walker’s bursts down the left were frequently troubling Heath Hayes and another nearly brought a goal four minutes before the break, a one-two with Tim Hopkinson setting Walker up in the penalty are but his shot was blocked by keeper Mark Wiggins.
When a goal finally came on 44 minutes it was a horror show. Romaine Graham’s attempted back pass to Hall fell well short and in nipped Jake Humphries to go around the exposed keeper and roll the ball into the net to give Heath Hayes the lead at the interval.
Ilkeston began the second-half well, Hopkinson flicking a Billy Bennett cross just wide on 54 minutes as they sought the leveller.
Montel Gibson controlled well before shooting just too high four minutes later, before Hall was forced into a double stop, first denying Teece and then Regan Smith in what until then was a rare second-half attack from the visitors.
Smith then came even closer, firing against the post moments later from a deep left-wing cross, the next attack seeing Teece fire just wide.
Gibson was guilty of doing that bit too much when bursting down the right soon afterwards, drilling a shot too high from a tight angle when squaring into the six yard box might have served him and Ilkeston better.
The killer second goal came on 76 minutes and again it left a lot to be desired from a defensive point of view, as a long ball through the middle saw Hall rooted to the spot and Teece was able to run on and finish well past the young keeper.
That proved enough. Ilkeston threw plenty forward late on without really threatening Wiggins’ goal, and one point from their opening two games is so far all they can boast.
Ilkeston Town: 1 Curtis Hall, 2 Billy Bennett, 3 Jamie Walker (c), 4 Chris Shaw, 5 Romaine Graham, 6 Charlie Jemson, 7 Ian Robinson (Paris Simmns 70), 8 Micah Edwards, 9 Montel Gibson, 10 Tim Hopkinson (Lavell White 70), 11 Greg Simmons
Subs not used: 13 Shaun Bodkin, 15 Elliott Hodgett-Young, 16 Craig Swinscoe
Heath Hayes: 1 Mark Wiggins (c), 2 Adam Weldon (Luke Holmes 73), 3 Dan Evans, 4 Alex Scott, 5 Kieran Nelson, 6 Jack Arrowsmith, 7 Mitch Teece, 8 Andrew Davis (Jack Partridge 62), 9 Regan Smith (Jack Weldon 69), 10 Jake Humphries, 11 James McCready
Subs not used: Tony Alsopp, Owen Partlow
Ref: Ryan Price
Star Robin: Greg Simmons