Ilkeston denied in seven-goal thriller

Jack Watts (third from left) heads home Ilkeston's first goal on Monday night.
Jack Watts (third from left) heads home Ilkeston's first goal on Monday night.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Evo-Stik Division One South


Jack Watts 42

Sam Duncum 60

Ryan Wilson 83


Tim Grice 7, 86

Dan Cope 26

Glyn Mellor 63

by Mark Duffy

WHEN these two sides met in the reverse fixture last October it was a dreadful game.

On a pudding of a pitch the Robins won by a single goal after a tight encounter on a foggy day.

This time around Leek were able to get their revenge in a game that was almost an exact opposite of the match at Harrison Park, Ilkeston being punished for a sluggish start to proceedings as well as some questionable defending, twice hauling themselves level only to be behind again within minutes on both occasions.

Roared on by a spirited travelling support, Leek took the lead inside seven minutes with the first major shot on goal and it was a stunner, Tim Grice meeting Tim Sanders’ cross first time on the volley and burying it into the corner of the net.

Ben Gathercole then had to deny Dan Cope from a Sanders corner on 15 minutes as it caused panic in the six-yard box.

The hosts were once again taking their time to get into any kind of rhythm but James Reid was to wake everyone up on 17 minutes, his fine strike from 25 yards rebounding back off the post and away from danger.

But it was the visitors who would get the second goal on 26 minutes, when another left-wing corner from Sanders was headed home by one of the smallest players on the pitch in the form of Cope, who didn’t even have to jump very high to do the honours.

There was then a stoppage as one of the referee’s assistants retired injured, his replacement being Leek substitute, and qualified official, Oliver Mellor – a situation far from ideal but one consented to by Robins boss Kevin Wilson and the game continued.

Ilkeston got themselves back in the game on 42 when a fairly unchallenged Jack Watts headed home Reid’s corner, before Matt Richards and Cope both went close in nine minutes of stoppage time but Leek held the advantage at the break.

Ilkeston lost Reid injured on 58 but they were to equalise just two minutes later in somewhat fortuitous fashion, as Joe Maguire’s header from a corner was cleared off the line by a defender but the ball hit Sam Duncum on the shoulder two yards out and found the roof of the net.

Alas, Leek were back in front just two minutes later, when a free-kick was headed back across goal by Matt Haddrell and centre-half Glyn Mellor swept in a fine volley from ten yards out.

Maguire headed Ryan Wilson’s corner over the top on 82, but it was 3-3 on 83 minutes and again there was an element of luck about it.

The ball found Wilson out on the left and he then delivered probably his worst cross of the season to the back post. Fortunately for him the ball found the top corner of the net as a consolation prize and it was all to play for again.

Sure enough, this incredible game was still to throw up another twist with four minutes left. A Leek free-kick was only cleared as far as sub Oliver Edwards and when his shot was fumbled by Gathercole, Grice followed up to put in the rebound from six yards out.

There was even still time for Robins sub Joe Wilcox to strike the post in injury-time with a stinging volley from ten yards out, but that was to be the end of the drama and a remarkable game was over.

Ilkeston: 1 Ben Gathercole 2 James Cullingworth 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Joe Maguire 5 Dan Partridge 6 Russell Cooke (c) 7 Jack Watts 8 Matt Richards 9 Gary Ricketts (Daryll Thomas 80) 10 James Reid (Joe Wilcox 58) 11 Sam Duncum (Tyrell Waite 80) Subs not used: Josh Hill, Ashley Robinson Att: 474 Ref: John Mayhew

Star Robin: Matt Richards