The Robins have made it to another final and it’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve it.
This semi-final with Heanor Town naturally had a touch of the banana skin about it given the Lions were always likely to come at Ilkeston with a vigour reserved by lower-ranked sides for such occasions, but ultimately there was little doubt about who was in charge at the New Manor Ground on Tuesday, indeed the 2-0 scoreline flattered the visitors a little given the numerous chances Kevin Wilson’s men wasted.
In the end, goals from bright young things Tyrell Waite and Callum Chettle saw them through and a second successive Derbyshire Senior Cup final awaits.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Ilkeston as Heanor came out of the blocks pretty strongly, perhaps unlucky not to go into the break at least on level terms, but the fact Glen Clarence’s men had barely played a game since the turn of the year eventually showed as the Robins’ superior fitness proved a key factor.
Heanor’s Gary Webster and Jared Holmes both had shots go close in the opening minutes, but the home side would take the lead on 14 when Waite was released down the left hand side from where he cut in and then shot powerfully past goalkeeper Mark Frost into far the corner of the net.
Frost then had to be alert to brilliantly tip over a Gary Ricketts header four minutes later after James Reid’s delicious cross from the left, the Heanor custodian frequently having to come to the rescue throughout the evening to ensure the scoreline didn’t get too embarrassing for his side.
Heanor were getting efforts in on goal but most were from distance. Chris Shaw’s 21st minute free-kick was fumbled by keeper Ross Etheridge who then did well to block Nathan Benger’s close range follow-up, and Nick Hall also tried his luck from distance but this time Etheridge was able to watch the ball roll harmlessly wide.
Ilkeston always looked dangerous on the counter-attack thanks mainly to the pace of Kane Richards and when he broke on 34 minutes the move ended with Laurie Wilson firing too high in a good position.
Waite then got down the left again before seeing his shot blocked by Frost, Ricketts’ rebound cleared off the line and back into the keeper’s grateful arms.
Heanor’s best chance came just before the break, as Shaw’s corner caused chaos in the six-yard box but Matt Blake’s shot lacked any real power and the ball was eventually cleared.
The second-half was pretty much all Ilkeston. Kane Richards twice set up Waite who missed the target early on but the second goal would come on the hour mark.
Chettle did well to intercept a pass on the edge of the centre circle and he then ran on to fire in a fine low shot from 30 yards that found the corner of the net - the 17-year-old’s first Robins goal.
Chances then dried up until the closing stages, Heanor finally waking from their second-half slumber to see Kieran Debrouwer have a shot deflected wide and, from the resultant corner, Brett Peel’s header cleared off the line by Ryan Wilson.
From that point the Robins then peppered Frost’s goal in the dying minutes but couldn’t find the net again, Laurie Wilson and Matt Richards both missing two good chances to make it 3-0, as did Ryan Wilson who stabbed wide after breaking into the penalty area.
But it mattered little as the hosts held on to claim the win and a place in the springtime showpiece can be added to their calendar.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014:
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Akil Wright 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Laurie Wilson (c) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ellis Storey 7 Kane Richards (Chey Adams 85) 8 Callum Chettle (Matt Richards 77) 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Tyrell Waite (Rai Simons 90) 11 James Reid. Subs not used: Matt Baker, Mike Williams
Heanor: 1 Mark Frost 2 Josh Raven (Lee Stevenson 70) 3 Chris Shaw 4 Nick Hall 5 Brett Peel 6 Matt Blake 7 Gary Webster 8 Gerry Moran (Ryan Tinsley 65) 9 Nathan Benger 10 Jared Holmes 11 Kieran Debrouwer. Subs not used: Alex Marshall, Jack Saxton, Ross Cherry.
Att: 315 Ref: Paul Thompson
Star Robin: Callum Chettle
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (@sportsphotorob)