Ilkeston rounded off their pre-season friendly campaign with a victory on Saturday as they overcame county rivals Belper Town at the New Manor Ground.
As with most pre-season games, it was hard to read too much into how each side will fare when the real action gets going next weekend, but Ilkeston, whilst perhaps not posing enough of an attacking threat throughout this encounter, did enough to deserve what is a morale-boosting victory ahead of the big kick-off against Stafford Rangers.
Belper had their moments but also lacked any real quality up top to penetrate the home side, the Ilkeston defence protecting keeper Ross Durrant well aside from one or two hesitant moments in the second-half.
All in all, Ilkeston look more or less ready to begin the new campaign but still lack a combative central midfielder and some flair out wide that might prove useful tools in the tough world of the NPL.
It took 12 minutes for the first clear cut chance of the game to arrive but when it did it brought the only goal.
The Robins put together a fine move forward with Mike Williams making inroads before finding Luis Rose out on the right, his ball into the box picking out Liam Hearn who beat his man before placing his shot into the far corner of the net.
Williams was then presented with an opening following Ross Parker’s failed clearance but shot wide from just outside the penalty area, Hearn next to have a crack as his effort was blocked by Dan Haystead after good work from Mark Shelton.
Eric Graves put Belper’s first shot on goal wide from 25 yards, Rueben Wiggins-Thomas then heading past the post a few minutes later and the same player just too high with a header from a corner on 35 minutes.
Durrant then had to palm away a Parker header as the Nailers continued to look a threat in the air, although it was Luke Foster who next went close for the hosts as he nodded just over the top from a Rory Coleman.
Rose had the first opening of the second-half for Ilkeston but volleyed too high on the turn on 53 minutes, before a mess at the back for the Robins let Wiggins-Thomas in but he lobbed just wide of the goal.
A flurry of Belper changes followed but they created the next chance as Alex Steadman forced Durrant into a save low down to his right.
It should have been 2-0 moments later as Coleman’s powerful strike hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced down on the line, Williams’ follow up superbly saved by Haystead at point blank range.
At the other end, Jermain Hollis’s effort was blocked en route to goal by an Ilkeston foot, before Robins sub Anthony Dwyer’s first action saw him turn a defender well and shoot just wide of Haystead’s post with what was the last notable action of the game.
Ilkeston FC 1
Belper Town 0
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Durrant, 2 Jak Kenworthy, 3 Rory Coleman (Dexter Atkinson 76), 4 Haydn Goddard, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Luke Foster (Tejan Brima 85), 7 Luis Rose, 8 Mark Shelton, 9 Mike Williams, 10 Liam Hearn (Anthony Dwyer 79), 11 Jaylon Bather.
Subs not used: 12 Connor Walters, Ben Morris, 18 Jamie Hannis
Belper: 1 Dan Haystead (Charlie Mansfield 84), 2 Kyle Bryant (Dominic Allen 62), 3 John Guy (Louis Keenan 78), 4 Eric Graves (c)(Mickey Armstrong 62), 5 Ross Parker (Elliott Hodgett-Young 46), 6 Phil Watt, 7 Jordan Ball (Laurence Constable 46), 8 Jonathan Williams (Matt Richards 62) 9 Rueben Wiggins-Thomas (Nialle Rodney 74), 10 Jermain Hollis (Jack O’Brien 84), 11 Alex Steadman (Gerome Palmer 74)
Sub not used: Rackeem Reid