Options for Watson after emphatic cup win

Lewis Walker in action for Ilkeston against Lincoln on Monday. He scored the opening goal. Photo: Craig Lamont.
Lewis Walker in action for Ilkeston against Lincoln on Monday. He scored the opening goal. Photo: Craig Lamont.
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Ilkeston FC head coach Andy Watson says Monday’s League Cup routing of Lincoln United gave him plenty of food for thought ahead of Saturday’s NPL visit to Barwell.

The 5-1 win saw Watson experiment with players in different positions, the result being a convincing display with lots of good attacking football.

And with several players having returned from injury to boost Watson’s options, he is happy to now be able to adjust his tactics accordingly.

He said: “I went for more of an arrowhead attack with Dexter Atkinson and Lewis Walker providing plenty of pace and width to get in behind and Dan Udoh leading the line.

“Lewis has shown tendencies to want to come deep to get the ball, particularly when playing as the lone striker, so the role he had on Monday perhaps suited him that bit better.

“Dexter got into several good one-on-one situations and Dan had an excellent game.

“We also wanted to have a look at Jordan Wheatley in a midfield role and he looked very comfortable, capping things off with a fine goal.

“So it was really encouraging. The Darlington postponement last weekend might have influenced the team selection in some ways, but to be honest I wanted to use the Lincoln game in this way anyway.

“The experiment worked well, so it would be foolish not to look at keeping things the same on Saturday. We’re helped by the likes of Liam Marshall, Dexter Atkinson and Charlie Coulson being fit again as it gives us plenty of options, so we’ll see how things develop.”

The Robins head to face a Barwell side who were heavily beaten 7-0 at Salford City last Saturday, but Watson says nothing can be taken for granted in a division like the Northern Premier League.

Last Saturday saw all four sides in the relegation zone record impressive victories, three of them away from home, emphasising the unpredictable nature of the division.

Watson said: “I’ll be going to the Barwell v Rushall Olympic game on Tuesday night to have a look at both teams as we face each of them in the next couple of weeks. I’ll also assess how Barwell’s pitch is holding up.

“They’ve had a tough few weeks but results in this league regularly show that anyone can beat anyone else on any given day.

“What that does is show the importance of looking after yourselves and making sure you approach the games right in a mental and physical sense.

“You can have an opinion on a team and how they set up but if you know your own strengths and do things right then that’s a massive step already.”

With a first win in five games having been secured against Lincoln, Watson is now keen to see the momentum from that match built on.

He added: “Lincoln are a division below us so it’s important not to get carried away, but before last weekend they’d not lost in seven games and were team of the month.

“We were a good gauge for them and it was really important that we played well because it gets us back into the winning mentality and gives us some positive momentum going into the Barwell game.”

Meanwhile, two of the outstanding fixtures in Ilkeston’s calendar have been rearranged.

The trip to Rushall Olympic will now take place on Tuesday, January 19 at 7.45pm.

Salford City will now host Ilkeston on Saturday, February 27, just a week after the two teams are scheduled to meet at the New Manor Ground.

That rearrangement now means that the away game at Buxton will in turn need to be assigned a new date.