I wasn’t at Saturday’s game with Workington - my friend’s stag weekend in Berkshire took priority on this occasion - but by all accounts it seems like the Robins just didn’t have the quality to hurt the Cumbrians who ran out 3-0 winners.
As has been the case a lot in recent weeks, goals from set pieces proved the big problem and as Andy Watson alludes to on the back page piece this week, it’s an issue he’s working hard on with the players to sort out.
The Robins aren’t scoring many goals either and that’s another issue altogether, but one that might be easier to rectify now a few more players are at Watson’s disposal.
The apparent bar on registering players was seemingly lifted before the Workington game and David Jones and Max Thornberry were promoted to the first team squad.
Several others may well follow before the end of the campaign and it’ll be a good chance for them to stake a claim to be in the reckoning for a first team spot once the pre-season period gets underway in July.
If anything, it’s a good time to give more of them matches because with Ilkeston not going up and highly unlikely to go down it almost acts as a kind of extended pre-season in some ways in terms of assessing a player in match situations.
It remains very clear that a side with an average age of 18 or 19 won’t be good enough to survive in this league, even if they’re some of the best at that age that are available.
What I hope we’ll see in the summer is the signs that a good mix of experience and youth will be the way forward. The club’s overall ethos doesn’t have to be compromised, just relaxed a little to give the first team more chance of success, which has to be a priority.
The academy and its successes so far are something Ilkeston are rightly proud of and I’m sure more players will come through and progress higher, but I see it as far more productive for them to play a side where they’re surrounded by at least three or four players who have good experience and from whom they can learn far more than if they’re in a struggling team full of players of the same sort of age.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of this season pans out. There are some winnable games but also some very tough ones and the Robins could really do with a couple more wins just to make sure they’re not dragged into a relegation scrap later on.
You may well know the result of Wednesday’s Doodson Sport League Cup tie at Kidsgrove by the time you read this. Here’s hoping there remains something serious to play for and what would be a tough trip to Scarborough Athletic to look forward to next week if Ilkeston have got through.