REPORT: Ilkeston FC 2-0 Bedworth United

Curtis Burrows fires home the second goal on Saturday. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Curtis Burrows fires home the second goal on Saturday. Photo by Craig Lamont.
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This may have been just another pre-season friendly but it was perhaps the best marker yet of how far Ilkeston are progressing as the new campaign edges ever closer.

Bedworth United play at a parallel level - the Southern Premier League - and therefore gave Robins head coach Gavin Strachan his first opportunity to assess his side against the kind of quality they will face when the Northern Premier kicks into life on August 15.

On the evidence presented here, the outlook looks promising. Ilkeston dominated most of the game and although in the first-half they struggled to get a serious foothold, the second saw them play some much better football and leave Strachan much happier with what he saw.

Ilkeston announced two more new signings before the game, both strikers. Jonathan Edwards is a powerful-looking 19-year-old who has joined on loan from Peterborough United for the season and Dan Udoh a slightly more diminutive but quick 18-year-old who had already featured for the Robins as a trialist in pre-season.

After a first quarter that saw neither side able to create muchin the way of chances it was the Robins who nearly opened the scoring on 24 minutes.

Eli Bako, mobile and lively throughout, worked the ball onto his right foot and curled a shot from the edge of the penalty area which struck the top of the crossbar and went behind.

Edwards then made space for himself but fired wide of Denham Hines’ left-hand post on the half-hour mark and Udoh shot straight at Hines after the keeper had made a hash of a back pass.

Joe Doyle then beat his man down the right but when he pulled the ball back to Edwards the new man could only skew his shot wide.

After such a low-key first-half he second began with the Robins on fire and they were two up inside six minutes.

First Oliver Luto floated in a free-kick from the left and one of the Robins’ many trialists on show, a big centre-forward, got up to head the ball home.

Then the same player was involved in Ilkeston’s second as a good move ended with Curtis Burrows firing home a fine low effort into the far corner.

Ilkeston were suddenly producing fast-flowing and attacking football, Bako beating two players and cutting in from the left and seeing his low shot deflected wide.

The goalscoring trialist forced a good save from Hines on 62 minutes after a further flurry of changes meant the outfield ten players were now entirely different to those who started the game and that in turn interrupted the flow the Robins had built up in the second-half.

One of the new arrivals, another trialist, cut in and fired wide on 72, before a fellow ‘unnamed’ forced a good save from Hines after being sent through the middle.

The hosts had created precious little until sub Kevin Mathe headed a corner over the top from six yards out in the closing stages, but that would be all they could muster and the game fizzled out to ensure the Robins’ success.

REACTION:

Robins head coach Gavin Strachan said: “I was again very encouraged by how we played, particularly in the second-half. We had a chat at half-time as I wanted us to get the ball forward more and they responded really well.

“It’s also good that our first-half teams haven’t conceded any goals yet in this pre-season as they’ve mainly been made up of players we’ve already signed so it’s a good mentality to get into.

“The game against Chesterfield on Tuesday will be a different kind of test but we’re coming on really well.”