Ilkeston FC’s under-18s gave Newcastle United a real scare at the New Manor Ground on Wednesday night but ultimately it was the Magpies who progressed to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.
The Robins were seemingly down and out at half-time with a 3-0 deficit to make up, but they fought back to score two quick goals and set up a grandstand finish in front of 927 fans.
In the end, it proved a bridge too far for Steve Welsh’s talented youngsters, but they can hold their heads up high after a fine run to this stage and a great effort against a Premier League side’s academy team.
The opening stages of the game saw both sides sizing each other up, Newcastle with most of the possession but Ilkeston keen to get their passing game going too.
The game’s first real chance brought a goal 17 minutes in. MacKenzie Heaney swung in a dangerous free-kick from the right which was headed towards goal by Ben Pollock and pushed away by keeper Jamie Hannis, but Lewis McNall was on hand to net the rebound from close range.
A good move from the hosts nearly set Mason Barlow in on goal but England U18 keeper Paul Woolston got there first, Mason Barlow’s error then gifting McNall the ball but his shot was straight into the arms of Hannis.
The second goal arrived on 33 and it was a good move that released Heaney into the box and his shot took a big deflection off Jordan Wheatley and found the corner of the net.
Ilkeston needed a goal quickly and nearly got it when Haydn Goddard received a short free-kick and his low shot hit the foot of the post and was cleared.
Another free-kick then caused havoc as Newcastle didn’t clear but when the ball reached Wheatley inside the six yard box he was deemed just offside before seeing his shot deflected inches wide.
The third Newcastle goal was as harsh on the Robins as it was lucky. Callum Smith’s powerful shot was palmed onto the post by Hannis but when the ball came out to Heaney, his effort took a huge deflection off the back of McNall which wrong-footed the Robins keeper and seemingly ended the game as a contest.
The second-half was similar to the first in that it took a while for any clear cut chances to be created and when one came it brought a goal.
Ilkeston moved the ball forward well and Walker fed the ball in to sub Roy Lee who scored with his very first touch having entered the fray moments earlier.
And he wasn’t finished there. A minute later a free-kick was swung in from the left and Lee got in ahead of Woolston to head home the second Robins goal.
Luis Rose then flashed a half volley wide from the inside left channel as Ilkeston suddenly had their tails up, the visitors rattled.
The Magpies did, however, have the next good chance as Smith was released in on goal but Hannis did well to push his shot away.
In the end, despite some late pressure the Robins couldn’t quite find the goal to take the game into extra time but they can hold their heads high after a fine effort both in this match and in the competition as a whole.
Ilkeston: 1 Jamie Hannis, 2 Connor Walters, 3 Rhys Dolan, 4 Mason Barlow (Brandon Clarke 85), 5 Jordan Wheatley, 6 Ryan Head (c), 7 Keenan Meakin, 8 Haydn Goddard, 9 Lewis Walker, 10 Ben Morris (Roy Lee 64), 11 Luis Rose
Subs not used: Billy Johnson, Max Thornberry, Charley Morton
Newcastle: 1 Paul Woolston, 2 Jake Trodd, 3 Gideon Adu-Pepra, 4 Sean Longstaff, 5 Michael Newberry, 6 Ben Pollock, 7 Owen Gallagher (Lewis Suddick 80), 8 MacKenzie Heaney, 9 Lewis McNall, 10 Jamie Holmes (Stefan Brocolli 57), 11 Callum Smith
Subs not used: Nathan Harker, Ben Kitchen, Louis Johnson, Owen Bailey, Craig Spooner
Star Robin: Rhys Dolan