The League Cup won’t be the highest on the list of Ilkeston’s priorities this season but the manner with which they dispatched Lincoln United on Monday night will have pleased most watching on.
A quickfire double in each half and a delightful night cap from Jordan Wheatley in stoppage time sealed a comfortable win for the hosts, although Lincoln will perhaps lament not converting more of the good openings they created, particularly in the first-half.
A strong side was put out by boss Andy Watson, no doubt influenced by last Saturday’s call off at Darlington, and those who were included all performed well.
After an quiet first ten minutes, Lincoln nearly went in front when Nathan Whitehead’s shot from the edge of the penalty area flew just past the post with keeper Evandro Rachoni well beaten.
Ilkeston responded with Dan Udoh shooting wide moments later, but it wouldn’t be long before they would take the lead.
Danny Gordon’s long ball from right-back caught goalkeeper Ben Townsend out and Lewis Walker nipped in to throw himself at the ball and send it into an unguarded net from the edge of the penalty area on 18 minutes.
Two minutes later the Robins struck again. After a good break forward Gordon saw a shot blocked but when JJ Blake pounced on the rebound he was clattered to the ground by a Lincoln defender. Blake picked himself up to stroke home the penalty himself and there was daylight between the sides.
Dexter Atkinson then very nearly made it three but saw his shot deflected just past the post by Townsend.
Lincoln had gone very quiet after a good start but Whitehead should have made it 2-1 when he miscued a shot wide from six yards out.
They did then pull a goal back on 38 minutes when a corner swung in from the right saw Jake Gibson get a touch and his effort went in off the far post.
It should then have been 2-2 just before half-time when Whitehead couldn’t get a good enough contact from just a couple of yards out to turn in Gary King’s cross.
It took just three minutes of the second-half for Ilkeston to restore their two-goal lead. Udoh did well to win, control and then distribute the ball to Blake on the edge of the penalty area and he curled a fine effort into the corner of the net.
As in the first-half, Ilkeston would strike again within two minutes and once again Blake was at the centre of things. This time he was fouled as he made his way to the byline for another penalty and as before he stepped up to beat Townsend and complete his hat-trick.
Chances then dried up somewhat although Ilkeston were getting plenty of the ball, promising breaks forward ended by poor final balls or fouls from the Lincoln defence.
Three changes for each side broke up the flow too, Eli Bako, Joe Doyle and the returning Charlie Coulson all introduced to freshen things up for the home side.
The next opening of note came on 79 minutes when Lincoln sub Andrew Toyne juggled the ball 25 yards out then volleyed just wide of Rachoni’s goal.
Matthew Cotton then cut inside but fired wide when in a good position not long afterwards, another effort from Cotton straight at Rachoni as Lincoln continued to seek a late consolation.
At the other end, Walker, outstanding all night, put Doyle’s cross into the side netting after a good Ilkeston move, Walker then beating his man and shooting wide from just outside the penalty area.
The win was rounded off in stoppage time and in some style. Wheatley had played in a midfield role rather than his usual centre-half berth and scored his first Robins goal by beating two men and hammering a fine effort into the top corner with virtually the last kick of the game.
Ilkeston: 1 Evandro Rachoni, 2 Danny Gordon (Joe Doyle 59), 3 Liam Marshall, 4 Jordan Wheatley, 5 Matt Baker, 6 Joe Burgess (c), 7 Lewis Walker, 8 JJ Blake (Eli Bako 69), 9 Dan Udoh, 10 Dexter Atkinson (Charlie Coulson 65), 11 Olly Luto
Subs not used: Haydn Goddard, Ryan Head
Lincoln: 1 Ben Townsend, 2 Jordan Lemon, 3 Kallum Smith, 4 Danny Brooks, 5 Michael Jacklin (c), 6 Sean Wright, 7 Gary King (Josh Parker 59), 8 Matthew Cotton, 9 Nathan Whitehead, 10 Jack McGovern (Andrew Toyne 59), 11 Jake Gibson (Callum Ward 69)
Subs not used: Sean Cann, Kevin Wright
Ref: Mark Jones
Star Robin: Lewis Walker