What a difference a few days can make.
After the disappointment of Tuesday’s poor display at King’s Lynn Town, Ilkeston responded with a far more positive performance at in-form Ashton United on Saturday.
Che Adams once again stole the show with a stunning goal to seal the points midway through the second-half as scouts from all over took their regular look at him, although it also needed a sturdy defensive showing and an excellent display from goalkeeper Jordan Smith to ensure the points were brought home.
Ilkeston dominated the opening stages, Kane Richards put through four minutes in but seeing his shot tipped wide by Paul Phillips in the Ashton goal.
The hosts’ Kayde Coppin was a lively character throughout and nine minutes in he cut in from the left before firing in a shot that beat Smith but not his right hand post.
The visitors took the lead on 13 minutes. Adams dinked a ball forward which saw Richards and Phillips collide as they both tried to get to it, but James Reid - playing in an unfamiliar right wing-back role - was loitering on the edge of the penalty area to slide a shot into the corner of the net.
Coppin, twice, and Rob Duffy both saw efforts wasted, whilst Richards’ personal battle with Phillips continued with the Ilkeston man seeing a header superbly saved at point-blank range by the Ashton player-manager.
At the other end, Jason Gorton and Gary Gee both found space to get headers in on goal before the break but neither really looked like threatening the Ilkeston goal as the visitors held on to their lead at the interval.
The second-half saw Ashton bang pretty hard on the Ilkeston door but somehow fail to break it down as the visitors shut up shop effectively and looked dangerous on the counter, as proved by Adams’ goal.
Before that, Gorton and sub Martin Pilkington saw headers go just too high as the home side started well.
But they were stopped firmly in their tracks by another moment of class from Adams on 65 minutes - the 18-year-old scoring a solo effort for the second Saturday in succession.
He received the ball on the touchline just inside the Ashton half before winning a battle of both speed and power with Connor Roberts-Nurse as he powered down the right touchline before cutting inside and finishing superbly past Phillips.
With the points seemingly in the bag, the focus then fell on Smith as he produced three excellent saves to deny Ashton a way through, Coppin, Pilkington and Gorton all denied by the young keeper, whilst Gorton also saw a goalbound shot cleared off the line by Joe Maguire.
The hosts deserved at least a goal but the fact they didn’t get it will have pleased Ilkeston boss Kevin Wilson given the events in Norfolk just three days earlier, the journey home far sweeter on this occasion as Ilkeston held firm to take all three points.
Ashton: 1 Paul Phillips, 2 Michael Aspin, 3 Connor Roberts-Nurse, 4 Jason Gorton (c), 5 Greg Pearson, 6 Ashley Young, 7 Lee Rick, 8 Gary Gee (Richard Bennett 52), 9 Phil Marsh (Martin Pilkington 52), 10 Brad Robinson (Chris Baguley 52), 11 Kayde Coppin
Subs not used: Mark Haslam, Steve Halford
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith, 2 James Reid (Luke Shaw 71), 3 Kieran Wallace, 4 Akil Wright, 5 Joe Maguire (c), 6 Jack Lane, 7 David Morgan, 8 Callum Chettle, 9 Rob Duffy, 10 Kane Richards (Tyrell Waite 88), 11 Che Adams (Mike Williams 86)
Subs not used: Matt Baker, Ashley Hunter
Ref: Luke Watson
Star Robin: Jordan Smith
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
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