Clifford stays positive despite Ilkeston Town losing home record

Mark Clifford says he hopes Tuesday's defeat won't derail Ilkeston's largely positive start.
Mark Clifford says he hopes Tuesday's defeat won't derail Ilkeston's largely positive start.

Mark Clifford says his Ilkeston Town side’s first home defeat of the season shouldn’t be allowed to put too much of a downer on what has been a positive season so far.

The Robins’ unbeaten run at the New Manor Ground ended on Tuesday night as visitors Wisbech Town ran out 2-1 winners, that coming just three days after Ilkeston beat Newcastle Town 3-1 at the same location.

But while Clifford was disappointed by the result, he was keen to keep things in perspective.

He said: “It’s a shame to lose the home record, obviously, but I’m more disappointed by how we worked both halves in the final third.

“I’ve said for a while that I feel it’s an area in which we’re lacking and while the boys have got a heck of a lot to say for themselves and when they train I see it all, but when it comes into a game I’m not quite seeing it, so that needs to change otherwise I’ll have to address it.

“We got players in good areas against Wisbech but just ran out of ideas. When the ball got out to players in good positions they picked the wrong options, perhaps coming inside when they should have been round the outside getting crosses in, so just making some really poor decisions.”

Clifford added that despite having not lost at home prior to Tuesday, the writing had been on the wall based on some of the performances.

He said: “I said to the lads that this has probably been coming for a while, if I’m totally honest, because we’re not killing teams off.

“We had some clear-cut chances against Wisbech but we should be burying teams and we’ve not done it.”

Ilkeston now prepare to head to face Sheffield FC on Saturday, a side that sit one position and two points behind the Robins in the NPL South East, in fifth place, but with two games in hand.

And Clifford is keen to see a response from his players.

He said: “The important thing now is that we dust ourselves down and prepare for Sheffield.

“It’s important to remember we’ve only lost one here and it’s our only defeat in four or five games so we’ll have to pick the lads up, but they have enough experience to know it’s just a case of going again and responding with a result.”

The Robins, meanwhile, confirmed the signing of much-travelled striker Massiah McDonald ahead of Tuesday’s game.

McDonald, 29, is a Montserrat international who has made Ilkeston his 15th club, having appeared for the Robins in pre-season.

He was most recently at AFC Rushden & Diamonds and came on for his debut against Wisbech.

Clifford said: “I don’t think we’ve been clinical enough in the final third and I felt we needed someone else up there to help Shaun Harrad.

“It’s important we have another option and hopefully the two together can be a force if we can give them lots of supply and gets lots of end results.

“There are still one or two areas where we need to improve but it’s important to keep things in perspective.

“We’ve lost our first game at home and it’s very easy after a defeat to get upset and start threatening widespread changes, but ultimately we’ll watch the game again, try and improve and rectify the mistakes we are making as a team.”