Ilkeston FC 2
Notts County 2
by Mark Duffy
Played on a carpet of a pitch in glorious sunshine, this match was everything you’d expect a pre-season friendly to be.
Add to that the fact it was also the beginning of a new era for football in Ilkeston with the debut of its new club, and all was well at the New Manor Ground for the 1,148 spectators who gave up their Saturday lunchtime to play a part.
The contest itself was as entertaining as it was leisurely, with fans from both sides able to see many new faces on show, some permanent and some in the shop window in the form of trialists.
County had the first opening when Craig Westcarr got free down the right and his low cross into the penalty area just evaded Jahidi, while for the Robins Gary Ricketts was putting himself about as usual and saw a shot deflected wide for a corner after 12 minutes.
New left-winger Will McCall was lively but it was trialist Ismael Lammy who was the first to test County keeper Rob Burch on 21 minutes as, after a nice passing move, he hit a shot from outside the box which the Notts man got behind to catch.
But the distinction of scoring Ilkeston FC’s first ever goal went to a man who was such a key part of the Robins in their previous guise. A corner was cleared back to Tyrell Waite and his fine cross was met by Ricketts who sent a looping header back across goal and into the far corner on 26 minutes.
Westcarr saw a couple of opportunities blocked but it was he who levelled on the stroke of half-time as his low shot from the edge of the penalty area beat home stopper Aaron Butcher.
Ilkeston introduced an entirely new outfield for the second-half, only goalkeeper Butcher staying on.
Jahidi jinked his way through but then fired over for the visitors, and Ilkeston’s Josh Wisdom brought a fine save out of sub keeper Fabian Speiss with a volley on 56 minutes.
But Notts took the lead on 62 minutes when a corner wasn’t cleared and the ball fell to a ‘not allowed to be named’ County trialist who, up from centre-half, fired into the roof of the net after a scramble.
Wisdom went close again on 74 minutes but the Robins levelled on 82 when Declan Harrop got to the byline on the right and the ball was flicked in at the near post by debutant Darryl Thomas.
Thomas then broke in from the left late on and saw his effort tipped round the post for a corner, Joe Maguire heading at the keeper from the flag kick in the last action of the game.