Skipper Lench confident Robins can achieve glory

Martin Lench in action for Ilkeston. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Martin Lench in action for Ilkeston. Photo by Craig Lamont.

Ilkeston Town skipper Martin Lench is confident the Robins can secure promotion at the first time of asking - if they can turn more of their possession in to goals.

Steve Chettle’s men are seventh in the MFL Division One after seven games, that after only forming three weeks before the new season started.

But now that they’ve begun to find their feet, Lench is hopeful more wins will follow to add to those gained in their last two outings.

He said: “With the players we’ve got, there’s no reason why we can’t go on and win the league, but there’s a lot of work to be done.

“We’ve been having a lot of possession in games but perhaps not scoring enough goals at times and if we can do that then I’d fancy us against anyone.

“We’re getting there, and the last two games have been much better in that we’ve won them both without conceding, but we now have a tough game at Atherstone on Saturday to try and maintain it.”

Lench has been a regular at clubs around the Midlands during his career having started down south with Wimbledon, the likes of Hucknall Town, Dunkirk and Kimberley Miners Welfare among his former employers.

And it was his close friendship with former joint-Kimberley boss Ian Deakin, who is now Ilkeston’s player/assistant manager, that led to his arrival at the New Manor Ground.

He said: “I began pre-season at Kimberley but knowing Deaks as well as I do and having been at Kimberley with him last season, when he took on his role here and wanted me to be involved it was a chance I jumped at.

“It’s a big club with a great fanbase and a superb setup so it was an easy decision to make and I was then over the moon when Chets decided to make me skipper and it’s inspired me to work harder to keep the shirt and the armband.”

With the Robins having what is largely recognised as being the biggest fanbase in the division, Lench says it provides the squad with excellent backing but can also mean opposition teams raise their game, whether Ilkeston are at home or away.

“Obviously at home we’ve got a lot of fans, more than most players at this level will be used to playing in front of, so with the facilities and the pitch too I think it can make teams raise their game that bit more,” he said.

“It’s the same away from home though. I remember warming up against Lichfield and when our fans’ coaches turned up and they all began filling the ground and singing I could hear the Lichfield players geeing themselves up and being determined to keep our fans quiet.

“Some might see it as an added pressure on us but it’s one we have to adapt to. You can only really see having great support as a plus and if you don’t make the most of it then you’ve only yourselves to blame.

“We’re particularly keen to make the NMG a fortress and aside from the first game against Heath Hayes, things have really started to click there now which could be so important.”

In terms of the bigger picture, club owner Alan Hardy’s desire to progress up the leagues as soon as possible hasn’t gone unnoticed by the players and Lench is now determined to help make it happen.

He added: “Alan Hardy is a businessman and he will want to see results given the money he’s putting into it all.

“This club has big ambitions to be back where it belongs at the higher levels of the non-league game and we all want to play a part in that.

“There’s a brilliant team spirit here and the feel around the place as a whole is really good so that can only be a positive thing. Now we just need to do the job on the pitch to help maintain that.”