ILKESTON FC will head to promotion rivals Stamford this weekend looking to bounce back strongly from their FA Trophy disappointment.
The Robins were dumped out of the competition courtesy of a replay defeat on Monday night, with Evo-Stik Premier Division side Northwich Victoria winning 5-1 following a draw in Cheshire on Saturday.
But despite contrasting performances over the two games, boss Kevin Wilson says a good response is top of the list as they prepare for this weekend’s key encounter.
He said: “We had our chance on Saturday and didn’t take it.
“Northwich are a very good side, particularly away from home, so I always knew that if we couldn’t turn them over on their own patch that we’d find it tough in a replay.
“That’s because we put so much into Saturday that there wasn’t much left in the tank for two days later and that reflected in the performance.
“We looked tired and leggy and just never got going, and although we missed some good chances while the game was still within our reach, conceding either side of half-time knocked the stuffing out of us and we couldn’t respond.
“But one of the things it has done is given a couple of important players who needed to gain some match fitness the chance to achieve that which is important ahead of the Stamford game.”
One of those players is winger James Reid, who has joined on loan from AFC Telford United and performed well on his debut in the first Northwich match.
He is seen as a temporary replacement for Will McCall, who is still some way off returning from injury.
Wilson added: “James has played and scored in the Conference Premier with Rushden and also in the Conference North with Hinckley and Telford, so should be a good acquisition.
“But as with many loan players he hasn’t featured too much recently so needed a couple of games to get his fitness levels up, though he did very well on Saturday.”
Despite the initial significance of Saturday’s encounter at Stamford and the following match at home to in-form Grantham Town on December 10, Wilson was keen to maintain that regardless of the results it is still early days in terms of the title race.
He said: “The fact is it’ll be all about who has won the most games and scored the most points in April that matters.
“When you look at our first half of the season we’ve hit 40 points already and are scoring lots of goals, so if we can keep that up I’m convinced we’ll be in the top spots come the end of the season, although we still need to cut some silly errors out and be more stable at the back.”
“Saturday is a big game of course and we know from when they beat us in October that they’re a very hard side to play against, but we created a lot of chances that day and it was only down to the goalkeeper we now have on loan (Alex Archer) that we didn’t win the game.
“So we’ll go there confident and keen to bounce back from Monday night.”