Ilkeston look to complete league double at Nantwich

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Andy Watson has warned his troops Nantwich Town will be looking to level the scores when Ilkeston travel to the Weaver Stadium on Saturday.

The Robins came from behind to win the reverse fixture 3-1 at the New Manor Ground in early October with goals from Liam Marshall and a brace from Lindokuhle Ndlovu.

That was under previous manager Gavin Strachan and now Watson believes his side will have to be on their toes to complete an Evo-Stik League Premier Division double.

Nantwich, without a league win in five outings, slipped out of the play-off spots on Tuesday night after Barwell’s win over Stourbridge saw them leapfrog the Dabbers.

Nantwich did, however, progress in the FA Trophy after an emphatic 5-0 second round replay win at home to Bradford Park Avenue.

Watson said: “They will be smarting from when we beat them earlier in the season. They’ll be looking to re-address the balance from that.

“They are a good side who play good football and move the ball quickly. We will have to be on our toes against them.”

The last week has seen a mixed bag of results for the Robins with a win followed by defeat in the space of two-and-a-half days.

A Jake Blake free-kick put Ilkeston ahead at Sutton Coldfield Town on Saturday before Dexter Atkinson sealed the points for the visitors in the 90th-minute with a fine solo run.

“I thought we played pretty well for 90 minutes, even against 11 men I thought we were the better side,” said Watson. “We controlled most of the game and scored two good goals. I was pleased with the performance.”

But they were unable to take that form in to Monday night’s clash against Frickley Athletic, a first home match in three weeks, in a 2-0 loss, with both goals coming in the second half.

“We were looking forward to coming back to the New Manor Ground,” he said. “We really did not perform as well as we would have hoped. They played well and made it difficult for us.”

Meanwhile, Watson believes striker Lewis Walker, who last week signed for SkyBet Championship club Derby County, could have a bright future ahead of him.

An undisclosed fee was paid for the 17-year-old who has impressed since breaking into the Ilkeston first team this season, as well as with some stand-out displays in the Robins’ run to the third round of the FA Youth Cup. It is believed various clauses based on appearances and future transfer fees have been included in the deal.

He is the latest in an ever-growing line of Ilkeston youngsters to sign for Football League clubs, following in the footsteps of Che Adams (Sheffield United), Ashley Hunter and Akil Wright (both Fleetwood Town) and most recently Rhys Dolan who signed for Barnsley.

“He’s a very good talent,” said Watson. “He can finish on either his right or his left side. If he works really hard in all aspects of his game then I think he’s got a very bright future ahead of him.”

“He’s got real pedigree and the one thing about him which you can really notice is that he’s not fazed by anything or anyone, he’ll face it head on and we wish him well.”