Steve Chettle says he’s keen to see Ilkeston Town’s hugely positive end to 2017 carry into the new year as the Robins aim to make it a memorable first season in existence.
A run of nine straight league wins takes Ilkeston into Saturday’s trip to Coventry Copsewood in fine form and they sit fourth in the MFL Division One standings following the festive fixtures.
And as Chettle reflected on a chaotic few months in charge, he expressed his delight at the progress the club has made since re-forming in July.
He said: “It’s been a crazy five months.
“We had virtually no pre-season which obviously wasn’t ideal and it took a while to get a settled group and a squad that was training as a unit.
“That slow start was emphasised by us only winning one of our first five games as we tried to gel and get fit and used to the division.
“But we’ve slowly grown both on and off the pitch and there are now good things going on throughout the club.
“It’s been a really good last few months and I think Ilkeston Town has got back into a steady state.”
Despite the progress being made and the large fanbase the club possesses, Chettle emphasised the importance of keeping expectations in check in the club’s first season.
He said: “We’re in great form but we have to keep reminding ourselves what the long game is and that the priority has to be sustainability and a stable team.
“The events surrounding the old Ilkeston Town and then Ilkeston FC have left a lot of fans and local football watchers sceptical about whether this latest entity can succeed but I have no doubts it can if we do things properly and manage the expectations of the supporters.
“Even if we had been able to have a full pre-season I’d have taken our current league position and points total if offered to me at the start of the season - I’d say we are three points ahead of par but probably five or six points behind where we should be.
“It will be a really interesting second half of the season and I think it’ll come down to how the top sides do against each other because we’re not seeing too many favours from those lower down when they come up against our rivals.”
Saturday’s opponents Coventry Copsewood sit 11th in the league and were Ilkeston’s first ever league victims when two Alex Marshall goals secured three points at the New Manor Ground back in August. Marshall will be suspended for Saturday’s game.
Bottom-of-the-table Coventry Alvis will be the hosts on January 6 before home games against Whaley Bridge in the Derbyshire Senior Cup on Tuesday, January 9 and then Atherstone Town four days later.