JACK Watts scored for the third consecutive game as Ilkeston earned a point at Brigg on Saturday.
Evo-Stik Division One South
BRIGG TOWN 1
Ryan Paczkowski 80
ILKESTON FC 1
Jack Watts 83
by Rod Malcolm
One fan came dressed as a can of Spam, another as a bottle of beer.
The Brigg gateman turned out to be Mike Campion, who once helped rescue the Robins from oblivion in the Manor Ground days.
A charity seller offered mulled wine and hot mince pies but a graffiti artist had sprayed the message: “You’re entering bandit country.” It had all the hallmarks of being a puzzling afternoon.
It certainly was after the ref blew his whistle, inspiring the Zebras to come charging forward like wildebeests.
In eight minutes, Alex Archer was forcing away a header by Jordan Cooper before doing even better to deal with a 20-yard shot by Chris Dickman.
Ilkeston’s modest response was a cross by James Cullingworth which was headed wide by Daryll Thomas. Liam Davis demanded urgent work from Archer, who was jabbed with pain from a groin injury.
“We need to get playing,” yelled manager Kevin Wilson but Brigg were eavesdropping and adopted the advice. It needed left-back Ryan Wilson to scoop away a Davis shot just before it crossed the line.
The Robins’ response was largely limited to a couple of runs by James Reid and some subtle prompting by Matt Richards, who nearly opened the home defence with a sprint round a couple of opponents. His shot was blocked before it could be lauded by Ilkeston fans dressed as Santa.
In the grotto of the dressing room, the manager mused that the first-half had been a hangover from the recent defeat by Grantham. But even when his side are short of their best, they never give up and are capable of football above their current station.
Jack Watts and Gary Ricketts contrived a decent move, a high cross from Richards was headed wide by Reid; clearly Wilson’s words were working.
Captain Russell Cooke imposed his authority at the back and Joe Maguire did the same in midfield.
Reid nearly turned the ball home and Ricketts fired across the face of goal. Instead of a Christmas carol, Ilkeston fans favoured a rude song in the referee’s honour but it looked as if they would soon be celebrating.
But suddenly the game turned and Brigg were ahead.
Davis got free on the right and the 80th minute cross was thumped home by Ryan Paczkowski, known as “Patch” for simplicity.
In three minutes, the game turned again. Reid wriggled down the left, making space for a cross which was hammered home by Watts for his third goal in as many games.
From that point, it was all Ilkeston. The Brigg defence managed to get in the way of efforts from Richards, Ricketts, Dan Partridge and a couple from Watts, but a point was to be all they would take away.
The last word went to Mike Campion, who once did a host of jobs at Ilkeston Town, from putting up the nets to secretarial work.
He now lives in Brigg, where he has twice been mayor, and said: “It was a good, entertaining game. It was nice to see a big following from Ilkeston.” .
Ilkeston: 1 Alex Archer 2 James Cullingworth 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Matt Richards 5 Dan Partridge 6 Russell Cooke (c) 7 Jack Watts 8 Joe Maguire 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Daryll Thomas 11 James Reid. Subs not used: Josh Hill, Andrew Osei-Siribour, Tyrell Waite, Adam Colton, Russell Peel
Att: 143 Ref: D Musgrove
Star Robin: James Reid