Positivity delights boss as Robins secure safety

Andy Watson can now look properly ahead to what the summer holds for Ilkeston FC.
Andy Watson can now look properly ahead to what the summer holds for Ilkeston FC.

Head coach Andy Watson has praised the confidence and positivity of his young Ilkeston FC players as their safety was confirmed in the Evo-Stik Premier Division this week.

A second successive win put Ilkeston on 51 points and beyond reach of those in the relegation zone, the 3-1 win at Hyde following up the 2-1 success over Whitby last Monday.

And Watsonwas delighted with the display that saw fellow strugglers Hyde sink deeper into trouble at the bottom.

He said: “The game against Hyde was a fantastic performance from all the lads.

“I felt we played really well in the first-half. We moved the ball around with better conviction, we pressed well and we got off to the perfect start.

“It was great to score with our first attack and with it being from a set piece was equally refreshing for us. I was delighted for Max Thornberry to get his first league goal; he reacted well from Curtis Burrows’ header back into the mix.

“I felt this was important for us, it won us the atmosphere as well as winning the early tempo.

“We looked dangerous on the attack at every opportunity. I felt Luis Rose, Mike Williams, Luke Shaw and Curtis all looked very good as an attacking unit.

“We settled with the early goal and we pushed on and grabbing the second was another massive moment for us. Danny Gordon latched onto a loose ball and his strike took a deflection and flew in, but it was just the luck we needed after recent frustrations with goals conceded.

“We saw out the first-half well, staying firm and organised and they had a few chances in the first half but Jahquil was never seriously tested in the first half once again.

“We could have had perhaps three or four in the first half which showed how well we are playing in the final third, Luke Shaw had a strike deflected and Curtis missed a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

“In the second-half we soaked up more pressure as I expected us to. They pulled a goal back with a neat move and finish but credit to the lads for not panicking at that moment, they stayed composed and it was something we worked on and they executed the response to conceding brilliantly.

“It was a great counter for our third and Curtis finished with composure to wrap up the game in stoppage time.

“We managed the game very well. We went from dictating in the first-half to counter attacking in the second and we had further chances after conceding.

“We have a lot of confidence now, a lot of positivity and we are winning games which is fantastic.”

The mini-run ended at Buxton on Tuesday night as Ash Worsfold’s hat-trick helped Martin McIntosh’s side to a 3-1 win. Dexter Atkinson’s goal just before half-time wasn’t enough for the Robins.

Meanwhile, influential midfielder Mike Williams will miss the final games of the season after picking up a nasty injury at Hyde.

The Welsh-born youngster went down under a challenge late in the game and was taken to hospital with his ankle heavily strapped.

The player himself later confirmed on Twitter that his injury was enough to keep him out for the remainder of the campaign, saying: “Would like to say thank you to the Ilkeston and Hyde staff for looking after me today. I have suffered a avulsion fracture.”

Watson added: “It was sad for us all, Willow is a huge player for us, he changes game and his impact is special.

“He suffered an avulsion fracture in his ankle so we are looking at eight weeks minimum. He’ll miss the rest of the season but he should be fine for the start of our pre-season.”

Ilkeston will host their final home game of the season this weekend with the visit of Rushall Olympic who can no longer secure a play-off spot.