‘Tis the season of goodwill and of bearing gifts but Ilkeston took it all a bit too far in this Boxing Day bash in North Nottinghamshire.
The Robins’ all-round performance wasn’t as bad as the scoreline suggests, but the concession of poor goals and having two players foolishly sent off did more than help an impressive Worksop outfit along the way.
Leon Mettam was chief destroyer, the former Ilkeston Town loanee hitting a hat-trick to take his season’s tally in the league to 29.
Yet this was all after Ilkeston had got off to a flying start. Just six minutes in, Gary Ricketts and Tyrell Waite combined in a tidy move and Ricketts was able to finish well past keeper Jon Stewart.
Matt Richards then saw an effort beaten away by Stewart, but goals were always likely to flow given the Tigers’ for and against record this season and sure enough they were level within moments.
Stewart’s long clearance somehow wasn’t dealt with by either keeper Ross Etheridge or defender Joe Maguire and Mettam sneaked in first to superbly lob the ball into the net from just outside the penalty area.
Four minutes later Mettam had his second, as Jack Muldoon’s cross from the right found the prolific striker six yards out and he swept the ball home.
The Robins were stunned but remained a threat going forward, Kane Richards shooting just too high on the turn and Ricketts twice seeing efforts go close.
A big turning point then arrived on 37 minutes, as Chey Adams got in a tangle with Jake Scott and appeared to catch the Worksop man with a flailing elbow. The assistant referee spotted the misdemeanour and the result was a straight red card for the 17-year-old.
Despite being a man down, Ilkeston started the second-half very well, Tyrell Waite’s shot cleared off the line, Ricketts hitting the bar with a looping header and Maguire nodding just wide following a free-kick.
But the game was as good as over on 57 minutes when Robins skipper Laurie Wilson, who didn’t have the best of games in the right-back role that rarely suits him, let a simple pass roll under his foot and Conor Higginson collected the ball, raced forward and finished well.
Four minutes later Mettam completed his hat-trick in stunning fashion, hitting a volley on the turn from 25 yards out that dipped under the bar and into the top corner of the net.
The Robins were beaten but still showed plenty of attacking intent, Ricketts, Aaron Hooton and Kane Richards all close to a goal before one finally arrived five minutes from time when Matt Richards’ slightly off target drive was turned into his own net by centre-half Chris Salt with unstoppable accuracy from six yards out.
The scoring still wasn’t finished as a quick free-kick down Worksop’s right saw Alex Pursehouse cross for the lanky Tom Denton to head home on 89 minutes and seal the victory.
Ilkeston’s Maguire then stupidly talked himself into a red card in the dying moments, his absence meaningless in this game but surely to be felt more in the three games he’ll now miss suspended as a result.
That capped off a bad day at the office for the Robins, but one which reinforced Worksop’s credentials as real promotion contenders.
Thursday, December 26, 2013:
Worksop: 1 Jon Stewart 2 Alex Pursehouse 3 Phil Roe 4 Jake Scott 5 Josh Hill 6 Chris Salt 7 Jack Muldoon (Mitch Husbands 84) 8 Shane Clarke 9 Tom Denton 10 Leon Mettam (Jack Adams 69) 11 Conor Higginson (Aaron Cole 74). Subs not used: Ben Gathercole, Jack Barnett
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Laurie Wilson (c) 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Chey Adams 5 Joe Maguire 6 Matt Baker 7 Kane Richards 8 Callum Chettle (James Reid 58) 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Tyrell Waite (Aaron Hooton 69) 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: Danny Gordon, Nick Langford, Mike Williams
Att: 501 Ref: D Street
Star Robin: Gary Ricketts
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter: @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamont (Twitter: @MrBarfly)