Lee Fowler says he’s proud to work with a squad of Ilkeston Town’s quality - and has challenged them to keep improving every game.
The Robins boss was speaking after seeing his side beat Shepshed Dynamo 4-1 on Saturday and maintain their lead at the top of the MFL Premier Division table.
And the response to the previous week’s defeat at Lye Town impressed Fowler, who had asked his players to show what they are made of.
He said: “The good thing about this group is the fact that they bounce back which shows great character.
“After reviewing the footage last week we felt a bit hard done by with the officials, which was similar in the Shepshed game as those we had in that match didn’t cover themselves in glory for for either side.
“But I’ve got a group of players who perhaps don’t know how good they are and I’ve told them I want men around me who can make decisions and be accountable for them.
“I’d watched Shepshed and noted that they didn’t have much pace or height in the team which is why we set up with Reece Fyfe, Jamie Walker and Elliott Reeves to hurt them in that respect. I’m proud of the lads. Every time I’ve asked questions of them their response has been brilliant and that’s what I want - for them to listen to what I’m saying, take the criticism on board and go an prove a point to me.”
Fowler also took time to praise hat-trick scorer Jamie Walker who produced a fine display and added to his impressive goals tally.
He said: “He has got so much ability. I’m proud to work with players like Jamie and all of the others every day and hopefully the fans can see that I’m creating something a little bit different”
Attention now turns away from league action this weekend as Ilkeston head to Romulus for an MFL League Cup semi-final, aiming to arrest a run of poor away form which has been in stark contrast to six wins on the bounce at the NMG.
Fowler added: “We’ll do things a bit differently at Romulus but the away form needs to improve and this is a great time to start.
“There will be a specific way of playing now away from home and people will see what we’re about on Saturday.
“Now we’re in the semi-final it would be great to go on and get into the final. Romulus are a good team who caused us a few issues here and have some lively players that play with freedom so we need to go and play as we do at home - psychologically things have to be right if we are to win a cup or the league.”
Meanwhile, the club announced on Monday that they have re-signed striker Tim Hopkinson.
Hopkinson was a regular scorer in a season and a half with the Robins before departing for Gresley and then West Bridgford in December having hit 11 goals this term.
But he’s now thrilled to be back.
He said: “It is great to be back with the lads and the coaches. It feels like I never left.
“At my age I want to be playing regularly and when I left I wasn’t getting much game time. I needed to get back playing to offer the Tim Hopkinson that scores goals.
“I’ve had a chance to play games and now I feel that I am back in the swing of things and I know I can offer this club goals and get the team over the line.
“When I had the call from the club to come back I knew I had unfinished business here. I wanted to win the league at the start of the season and I fully intend to come back and do that and win the cup as well.
“I feel that I have a good connection with the fans. They have always supported me and had my back.
“I will try my best to win the league for them because they deserve it. They have been through thick and thin with this club, travelling to away games and supporting us on late Tuesday nights. We owe it to them to bring back the league title.”
Boss Fowler was also pleased to see ‘Hoppo’ return.
He said: “I am delighted to have him back. I didn’t want him to leave in the first place. He wanted to go and get some game time, which he needed to do at the time and I couldn’t stand in the way of that.
“When I was looking for a striker to bring in he jumped straight to the front of the queue. I like his attitude and his mannerisms. He is someone who has a great relationship with the other players and the fans.
“He started the journey here and it would be fitting if he can give us that extra push to help finish what he started two years ago. He’s said he has unfinished business at the club and that is a great way of thinking about coming back.”