ILKESTON FC fell to their first home league defeat since October 1 as old rivals Grantham Town took all three points on Saturday.
Evo-Stik Division One South
ILKESTON FC 1
Jack Watts 38
GRANTHAM TOWN 3
Gio Charchedi 36
Paul Grimes 43
Martin Ball 66
by Mark Duffy
IT’S a common observation in football that if you don’t take your chances then it’ll probably come back to haunt you.
And that was certainly the case at the New Manor Ground on Saturday as old rivals Grantham Town came along and punished the Robins for their profligacy in front of goal, hitting the league’s summit in the process.
The game was arguably summed up just after the hour mark and with the visitors 2-1 up. Ilkeston’s Gary Ricketts was sent clear and opted to square the ball for the onrushing Daryll Thomas who looked a certain scorer.
But keeper Rob Murray produced a superb stop at point-blank range to deny him, and within two minutes the Gingerbreads had made it 3-1 and effectively ended the contest.
It wasn’t the first time the Robins’ fans had been left scratching their heads at their usually lethal front two, the opening six minutes seeing Thomas miscontrol when through on goal and Ricketts screw a shot wide when also one-on-one with Murray.
Paul Grimes and skipper Ben Saunders were closest to scoring for the visitors early on, but it was they who did eventually break the deadlock on 35 minutes.
A long ball saw Grimes take control and lift the ball over the onrushing Ilkeston keeper Alex Archer and across the six-yard box where Gio Carchedi was on hand to put a diving header into the net.
But two minutes later it was 1-1. Jack Watts ran on to a through ball and when Murray got there first it seemed the danger would be cleared, but instead the ball ricocheted back to Watts who was left with the simple task of rolling it into an empty net.
A stunner then put the visitors back in front two minutes before the break. Grimes was fed by Carchedi and there didn’t look too much danger as he set himself on the right-hand edge of Ilkeston’s penalty area, but he curled a fine effort over the statuesque Archer and into the corner of the net.
The early stages of the second-half saw the crossbar rattled at each end.
First Ilkeston’s James Reid let fly from the edge of the box only to see his strike bounce back off the woodwork, and the same fate then befell Martin Ball with a fine free-kick which had Archer beaten.
Then came the turning point, as Thomas’s crucial miss was swiftly followed by the Gingerbreads’ third goal.
It was another Ball free-kick which did the damage, as from a similar position to the effort that hit the bar minutes before, he found the woodwork again but this time the ball went into the net off the inside of the post.
Subs Jamie McGhee and Tris Whitman both went close to a fourth while Watts had a penalty appeal turned down late on for the hosts, but the points were safe for Grantham who look a very good bet for a promotion spot.
Ilkeston: 1 Alex Archer 2 James Cullingworth 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Joe Maguire 5 Josh Hill (Ashley Robinson 71) 6 Russell Cooke (c) 7 Jack Watts 8 Matt Richards 9 Gary Ricketts (Tyrell Waite 82) 10 Daryll Thomas 11 James Reid. Subs not used: Dan Partridge, Andrew Osei-Siribour, Adam Colton
Att: 574 Ref: D Carratt
Star Robin: Matt Richards