Strachan thrilled after dramatic late winner

Gavin Strachan enjoyed his first win as Ilkeston manager with a 2-1 success at Grantham Town on Tuesday.
Gavin Strachan enjoyed his first win as Ilkeston manager with a 2-1 success at Grantham Town on Tuesday.

Gavin Strachan praised the character of his young Ilkeston FC side this week following a mixed start to the new Evo-Stik Premier Division season.

After losing their opening game at home to Skelmersdale 3-1 on Saturday, the Robins then went a goal behind against Grantham on Tuesday night after just 30 seconds.

But they bounced back to win that game 2-1 thanks to a late winner from defender Matt Baker, leaving Strachan thrilled with the response from his players.

He said: “It was a great reaction to Saturday but also to going behind so early on.

“A few people questioned our character and how our young players would cope after Saturday but they responded perfectly. We fully deserved to win and other than the goal we conceded, I don’t think Evandro Rachoni had a save to make.

“Andy Watson and I know we have a good team here but we still didn’t know quite how good their mental strength was. The win at Grantham has showed it’s there in bundles and we can take a lot of heart from that.”

Saturday’s opener with Skelmersdale saw the Robins storm out of the blocks with an early goal and an impressive opening quarter of the game, before Skelmersdale scored two in three minutes early in the second-half and rounded off the 3-1 win late on, with Ilkeston’s new signing Lee Hughes sent off for two bookable offences.

Strachan said: “Our naivety has cost us. We needed a second goal and I was getting edgy the longer we waited for it.

“I knew we wouldn’t be able to sustain the great start we got but it would be a question of how we’d cope when the going got tough, which it did and we struggled, particularly conceding two quick goals and then going down to ten men. Our inexperience showed.

“We lacked ideas going forward at times and kept trying to produce ten passes en route to goal when fewer might have sufficed.

“Lee (Hughes) will know he’s made a mistake but showed us on Tuesday what he’s all about. He was desperate to play and to make amends, even though he had a bit of a tight hamstring beforehand, and he was superb at Grantham which shows the difference a few days can make.”

Ilkeston now make the long trip to North Wales to face Colwyn Bay on Saturday, a side relegated from the Conference North last season.

The Robins then return to the New Manor Ground next Monday night when Stourbridge are the visitors.

Strachan said: “Tuesday’s win will mean we can go into work over the next few days in a much better mood and frame of mind and enjoy training that bit more. I might also talk to my family a bit more as I’ve been a bit quiet since Saturday!

“One thing I’d missed as a player was that feeling of going back into a dressing room having just won and it was great to taste that again on Tuesday. Now we need to use this win as a springboard to get more.”