ILKESTON FC’s penultimate pre-season friendly came to a controversial end on Wednesday night after Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox withdrew his players from the pitch on safety grounds.
The match had 20 minutes remaining with the visitors 4-2 up when Robins striker Gary Ricketts was involved in an incident with Stags defender John Thompson which resulted in the latter being taken to hospital with a broken nose.
And with the Mansfield coaching staff claiming two other Ricketts challenges from earlier in the match had also resulted in hospital treatment for his players, Cox felt he had no choice but to withdraw his players from the rest of the game.
He said: “Richie Sutton has broken his collarbone and Martin Riley needs stitches in a head wound, so I didn’t have any options left and felt things had got out of hand.”
Robins boss Kevin Wilson was reluctant to comment in depth so soon after the match, but admitted the situation would need to be addressed.
“This will be dealt with in the right way, but whether that becomes public I don’t know yet. I’ve known Gary Ricketts a long time and will need to sit down and talk to him,” he said.
“I need to digest it over the next 24 hours. We film the games so I’ll have a look at the DVD and judge what happened then,but you don’t like to see things like that at a game.
“I just hope all the Mansfield lads are OK, especially John Thompson.”
Ilkeston FC released a statement on Thursday morning confirming Ricketts had been suspended by the club pending an inquiry.
In the statement, club chairman Dave Mantle said: “We are obviously upset about any player being seriously injured and particularly wish John Thompson a speedy recovery.
“Kevin Wilson and I have already met to discuss Gary Ricketts’ part in the incidents but we need to gather more evidence and speak to the player himself before deciding our next course of action.”
The match itself had been an entertaining encounter, with all of the goals having come in the first-half.
Mansfield took the lead in the fifth minute when David Heggarty crossed from the left and Matt Green powered a header at goal which Aaron Butcher did very well to parry away, but the ball struck Robins defender Josh Hill and rebounded back into the net.
However, it only took two minutes for Ilkeston to draw level and the goal stemmed from a Mansfield corner.
Louis Briscoe failed to control the ball 30 yards out allowing the Robins to break away, and after Darryl Thomas had burst 40 yards forward he slipped a fine ball through to new signing Karl Dimidh who finished well past Shane Redmond.
But the visitors were to go back in front on the quarter-hour mark when ex-Eastwood man Lee Stevenson did well to break into the penalty area, and after drawing the keeper he squared across the six-yard box for Green to slam the ball into an empty net.
A lovely one-two between Ricketts and Thomas then sent the latter clear but his low effort was saved by keeper Shane Redmond’s legs, and what could have been 2-2 suddenly became 3-1 to the visitors when Joe Kendrick’s cross found ex-Ilkeston man Briscoe on the right-hand edge of the penalty area who produced a fine finish across Butcher and into the far corner.
The Robins were back in the game two minutes before the break.
Ryan Wilson, whose delivery had been promising all evening, produced another fine cross from the left and Ricketts powered in a header which Redmond was unable to prevent from crossing the line.
But there was still time for Mansfield to add another goal just before half-time.
Green smashed an effort against the crossbar but the ball appeared to be handled by a Robins defender before reaching the approaching Paul Connor, and a penalty was awarded.
Briscoe stepped up and powered the spot-kick down the middle to make it 4-2.
The second-half was much more subdued in terms of goalmouth action, before the 70th minute abandonment brought proceedings to a halt.
Ilkeston: Aaron Butcher, Joe Wilcox, James Burgin, Liam Green, Josh Hill, Dan Partridge, Karl Dimidh (Lammy 61), Adam Colton, Gary Ricketts, Darryl Thomas, Ryan Wilson
Subs not used: Laurence Gibson, Darren Caskey, Jide Fashola, Andrew Osei-Siribour, Russell Peel, Ashley Robinson, Declan Harrop
Mansfield: Shane Redmond, Richard Sutton (Luke O’Neill 31), Joe Kendrick, John Thompson, Martin Riley (Nick Wood 53), Louis Briscoe (Andy Todd 65), Lee Stevenson, Paul Connor (Anthony Howell 61), Matt Green (Ross Dyer 61), Adam Murray (John Worthington 63), 22 Nick Heggarty (Adam Smith 65)
Subs not used: Lindon Meikle, Matt Bell, Alan Marriott.