Ilkeston FC head coach Paul Holland says he’s taken plenty of positives from the recent friendlies against high-calibre opposition - but is now looking forward to his side being tested by those from a similar level to the Robins.
Holland’s men have been beaten by Notts County and Chesterfield over the last fortnight and also by a young Leicester City outfit, all of them matches that saw Ilkeston’s defensive shape given much more of a test than their attacking prowess.
And it’s for that reason that Holland is now looking forward to coming up against fellow non-league opposition.
He said: “I’m pleased these games against sides like Notts County and Chesterfield are out of the way. We can take plenty from them but most of the remaining games are against teams that are much more at our level.
“Collectively we’re defending well as a unit but sometimes you have to see out certain situations which we didn’t do against Chesterfield and were punished, but again we’ll take the positives and move on as I’d sooner see that happen today than on the first game of the season.
“Defensively I know the shape I want us to have and we’ve worked well on that. Now I’m keen to develop how we hurt teams going forward.”
On the Chesterfield game, former Spireite Holland added: “It was a good test for us and I was pleased to have kept them out until half-time.
“It was great to see some familiar faces. Danny Wilson was my manager at Bristol City and he’s a great football person I get on well with. He was also very complimentary afterwards about our players.”
Ilkeston were due to face Staveley Miners Welfare last night (Wednesday) after the Advertiser went to press, before Derby County send a side to the New Manor Ground on Saturday.
They will then round off their friendly campaign with a home match against Borrowash Victoria next Wednesday (3rd), a trip to Rossington Main two days later and then finally the visit of Belper Town to the New Manor Ground the following day.
Holland said that striker Liam Hearn and goalkeeper Ross Durrant were left out of the Chesterfield game as a precaution, but that otherwise he’s happy with the state of his squad in a physical sense.
He said: “Fitness-wise we’re looking really good. We’ll give more players 90 minutes as time progresses but the majority got over an hour against Chesterfield which is a good sign.
“Liam had a slight twinge in his ankle. He was prepared to play but I didn’t want to risk him as it would have been pointless to start him and then have to replace him ten minutes in.
“We’ve got to be a bit careful with Liam given his past record with injuries but he is fully fit and knows his own body and he’s raring to go.
“It was also precautionary with Ross who we think had a case of mild concussion so again it wasn’t worth risking him for a game like this.”