ILKESTON FC were unable to break down hosts Kidsgrove on Saturday as a 0-0 draw ensured the Evo-Stik Division One South league title went to Grantham Town.
Evo-Stik Division One South
KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC 0
ILKESTON FC 0
by Rod Malcolm
Two pensioners were having a laugh at fans who tripped on a yellow-painted step in front one of the stands. “Wonderful,” said one as a passer-by stumbled.
“It catches one in four. We need an escalator,” his pal replied as they waited to see someone fall headlong. They were disappointed, especially as they hoped the Robins would come a cropper when the game began.
Behind one goal, the Ilkeston fans were laughing at the good fortune of having a successful team to support. “You are my Ilson, my only Ilson,” they sang as Kevin Wilson’s men made a sure-footed start.
In five minutes, Jack Watts fired narrowly wide after a James Reid free-kick was headed clear. Daryll Thomas saw an effort rise a little too high before Francis Green’s flick was within an inch of freeing his strike partner.
Matt Richards wormed his way into a shooting position and the effort fizzed over the bar. All this came in the first 12 minutes before Kidsgrove had made any progress. Then dangerous Danny Griggs crossed for keeper Lloyd Allinson to make his first catch as an Ilkeston loanee.
And so it continued in the same vein. Ryan Wilson linked with Sam Duncum on the left and the winger’s cross was headed out before it could reach Dan Partridge. The centre-back was up for a couple of corners, forcing goalie Steve Hodgson to punch the ball off his forehead and Mark Beeston to nod away another effort.
Watts drifted in from the right and his left-foot shot zipped a foot wide of the post and the diving Hodgson. Richards then forced the keeper into a good save in 41 minutes.
It was pretty much the same in the second-half, this time with Ilkeston running uphill towards the woods and away from the houses. On the hour, the manager brought on Will McCall and Andrew Osei-Siribour in an effort to find that goal.
It nearly came when Green got free in the penalty area but was forced wide by Beeston and could only shiver the side netting. And as so often happens in such games, Kidsgrove had the best chance.
A defensive stumble allowed Andy Kinsey the freedom of the Ilkeston goal area but all he could do was to slam a shot against a post. Allinson grabbed the rebound.
But the Robins went close to snatching it late on as Russell Cooke nearly headed home a James Cullingworth free-kick in the 89th minute. In added time Cullingworth blocked a shot by Griggs.
The team headed off to find Grantham had won the title while Ilkeston had “huffed and puffed,” in the words of assistant manager Darren Caskey.
Ilkeston: 1 Lloyd Allinson 2 James Cullingworth 3 Ryan Wilson 4 James Reid 5 Dan Partridge 6 Russell Cooke (c) 7 Jack Watts (Joe Wilcox 85) 8 Matt Richards 9 Francis Green 10 Daryll Thomas (Andrew Osei-Siribour 62) 11 Sam Duncum (Will McCall 62) Subs not used: Joe Maguire, Ben Gathercole (GK)
Ref: J Clarke (Walsall)
Star Robin: Dan Partridge