I was one of quite a few people who took a pretty dim view of Ilkeston’s performance on Saturday and as my match report suggests, there was a lot wrong with the way they blew their FA Cup adventure this year.
Firstly, credit must go to Rugby who, having seen their manager resign the day before, turned up not knowing what their best team was or even how they’d really approach the game. Behind after 90 seconds they managed to knuckle down and get a deserved win.
The fact that was allowed to happen was obviously of some concern to everyone hoping for an Ilkeston win.
Yes, plenty of good chances were missed, but that was only in a 30 minute period and had they continued creating them at that rate then they’d have surely won the game.
Instead, Rugby got level and the doubts began to creep in again.
At 2-2 a replay was looking most likely but then a horrendous own goal summed up the way things are going at the moment.
There are too many players who have come in this season and who aren’t, at this stage, up to the task.
A lack of quality on the ball, suspect positioning off it and a difficulty in coping with the physical aspect of life in the Northern Premier League is proving a real problem.
So what’s the answer? Do these players get longer to adapt and show their mettle? Should they be dropped in favour of better players whether or not they’re already at the club?
It’s a tricky one. Some of these kids have never played seriously competitive football before and it’s a real learning curve.
The trouble is, Ilkeston’s aim this season is promotion and, at the moment, keeping with this set of players won’t see them achieve that. If they wanted a mid-table spot then the current squad could be given more time to adapt and mid-table is probably where they’d finish.
Instead, Gavin Strachan is having to think quickly rather than let too many games pass by and risk losing touch with the leading pack.
Those three wins in a row seem a long while ago now and a common factor in all of them was Lee Hughes. In other words, an experienced head who did a job when required and that in turn got Ilkeston points.
That could well be what’s required now. Those with more experience may not be available (or cheap enough) to train full-time but most of the best players in the Evo-Stik Premier are part-time so it shouldn’t matter.
After all, I could train full-time but it wouldn’t make me good enough for this unforgiving division (or any other, for that matter...)
Anyway, an interesting week lies ahead with two more tough games. I’d say at least three points from them is pretty crucial in terms of getting Ilkeston back on track.