Kevin Wilson was full of praise for his Ilkeston FC squad after an encouraging display against Leicester City, as the Robins now prepare to face a Chelsea XI next week.
The 0-0 draw on Saturday saw Ilkeston more than hold their own against a young Foxes side, with several stand-out performances leaving fans and management satisfied with what they saw.
An experiment with a new formation played a big part in the display, something Wilson found satisfying.
He said: “We played very well and there were lots of excellent performances individually and collectively.
“We tested out a new shape which they all seemed to enjoy.
“I feel we need to have a lot more of an ability to adapt to different situations as there were times last season where we ran out of ideas and didn’t have anything to fall back on, so it’s important there are options to either change to during a game or to prepare with for a specific test.
“When you look at the games at the end of last season at Whitby and then against Matlock in the Derbyshire Senior Cup final, we had to go from playing a system at Whitby that the young players were used to and that helped us to an emphatic win, to having to revert back for the Matlock game because the more experienced players weren’t used to the other formation.
“We also didn’t convert enough chances last year and that’s something we need to rectify, not just by changing personnel but by adapting to a system that might give us even more opportunities.”
Wilson is trying to iron out a deal for former Burton Albion striker Evan Garnett, who spent time on loan at Hucknall Town last season but was released by the Brewers in the summer.
“Evan had an injury at Burton which held him back a bit but he’s done well in the couple of pre-season games he’s played and we’re trying to sort something out,” said Wilson.
“We’ve got Aaron Hooton to come back and also Antwan Russell from Bermuda to bolster our striking options, but Evan is certainly someone who can also add depth.”
Following a trip to face Shepshed Dynamo on Saturday, the Robins will then face arguably the most exciting test of their short history when Chelsea send a team to the New Manor Ground next Tuesday night (30th)
With the Blues first team on tour in the Far East and then the USA it will be a young squad travelling to Derbyshire to face the Robins, but with a number of talented players from both home and abroad currently coming through the ranks at Stamford Bridge, Wilson believes it will still be a treat for Robins fans to see the quality on display.
He said: “The simple fact is these are young players coming through the youth system of one of the biggest clubs in the world, so you know there will be some real talent on show.
“It will be a great experience for our players to test themselves against such quality opposition and hopefully the fans will enjoy it too.”
Wilson expects to give more minutes to many of his first team squad as the season edges nearer.
He added: “By that point we’ll be looking at giving the majority 75-90 minutes given we’re getting much closer to the start of the new campaign.
“We’ve still got games at Belper, Eastwood and Coalville to come after Chelsea which will be much more of a marker for us, but we want to put on a good display against Chelsea given how many fans will be in attendance.”
Tickets remain on sale for the Chelsea game. Visit www.ilkestonfc.co.uk for details.