DUFFERS’ DIARIES: Watson’s first defeat is something of a surprise

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I said last week that Andy Watson’s winning run would end some time but I honestly didn’t expect it to be against Stocksbridge Park Steels in the FA Trophy.

Nor would I have predicted that once the winning run was over, his first defeat would follow with Stocksbridge again the team to do it.

Credit to the Division One South side who coped better with the conditions on Tuesday night and although Ilkeston created plenty they didn’t have enough to earn progress through.

Saturday was perhaps more frustrating, mostly due to the fact that Steels’ goal was blatantly offside, something most in the ground could see except for the man who had a flag in his hand and could have disallowed it.

Even the match officials assessor sat in front of me wasn’t impressed at the decision and although it’s hard to argue that goal alone cost Ilkeston their FA Trophy place, it really didn’t help.

Whether the match should have been played at all was also an issue. I think had the pitch been as sodden as it was at 3pm just 90 minutes earlier when the referee arrived he may well have postponed the game, but to be honest it was the same problem for both teams so fair play to them for getting on with it.

What’s important now is that this cup setback doesn’t affect the great strides Ilkeston have made in the league.

Hyde come to the NMG this weekend and are doing well after a shaky start, although they lost 3-0 to Nantwich on Tuesday night.

Ilkeston’s squad depth was highlighted by the players they were able to bring in on Tuesday night and I think they have a good pool of players available now which is so important, and we may well see a return to having a bit more experience in the team on Saturday now the likes of JJ Blake, Danny Gordon and Lee Ndlovu are fit again, although they’re hardly veterans!

I had the pleasure of covering Ilkeston’s FA Youth Cup win over Shrewsbury Town last night and what a great performance it was.

These young players never fail to impress me and the club’s profile is growing all the time. A tie with Newcastle United is the reward and that profile will only be raised further.

So huge congratulations to Steve Welsh and his young players and here’s hoping we’re witnessing the start of some very promising careers.