WILL McCall struck the winner 11 minutes from time as Ilkeston took all three points at Leek on Saturday.
Evo-Stik Division One South
LEEK TOWN 0
ILKESTON FC 1
Will McCall 79
by Mark Duffy
IT is said that patience is a virtue and in footballing terms so is sometimes having to ‘win ugly’ when chasing glory.
Both of those factors were evident at a gloomy Harrison Park on Saturday as Will McCall’s close-range effort 11 minutes from time won a scrappy and unattractive encounter, but one which warranted three points that could prove to be so valuable to Ilkeston.
Hosts Leek, themselves enjoying a fairly productive season so far, threatened little on a damp and slippery surface which made any attempts to play decent football nigh on impossible.
Leek’s Michael Thomas volleyed the first half chance over the top on four minutes following Tim Sanders’ right wing corner, while at the other end Ryan Wilson’s long range strike was into the trees behind Danny Roberts’ goal with the visitors’ first real effort of note.
Wilson was even higher with another strike three minutes later, and the hosts then had a shout for a penalty when Jimmy McCarthy burst through and went down under a challenge from Josh Hill but referee Joe Simpson waved away appeals.
Gary Ricketts was inches from turning in a Wilson cross on 13 minutes, the ball drifting out for a goal kick after evading the striker’s lunge at the far post.
Whilst so far unable to score, the Robins were instead finding the trees behind Roberts’ goal with perfect accuracy, Liam Green next to hit a wayward shot too high on 18 minutes.
McCall came a little closer on 21, his low shot on target gathered by Roberts after the Robins winger was fed by Daryll Thomas.
The game was lively yet not all that exciting, though McCall was inches away from an opener on 41 minutes with a shot which went through Roberts but got enough of a touch from him to deflect wide for a corner.
Half-time saw the seemingly injured Wilson replaced by Dan Partridge, Joe Wilcox moving to right wing and McCall out to the left.
Leek had the first opening of the second-half, McCarthy’s right-foot shot very well blocked by Russell Cooke with the ball looking like it was on its way to goal.
There was still little in the way of clear cut chances being created as the game got more and more scrappy, though Ilkeston looked the more likely of the two sides to break the deadlock.
Cooke, however, nearly gifted the hosts a goal on 73 minutes when he mis-judged a through ball allowing Devon Gibson to run in on Ben Gathercole, but the on-loan Forest keeper got behind the shot albeit to fumble it away to safety.
But the opener was to finally arrive on 79 minutes and it was predictably scrappy.
A ball into the box saw Ricketts fight for possession, and the ball eventually fell to McCall who poked it home from six yards out.
And McCall nearly created a second moments later when he sent sub Tyrell Waite in on goal but he lifted his effort wide of the far post from a tight angle.
But the win was Ilkeston’s and the emotion shown at the end by fans, players and management showed just how much it meant after a tricky afternoon’s work.
Ilkeston: 1 Ben Gathercole 2 Joe Wilcox 3 James Cullingworth 4 Liam Green 5 Josh Hill 6 Russell Cooke (c) 7 Will McCall 8 Darren Caskey 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Daryll Thomas (Tyrell Waite 73) 11 Ryan Wilson (Dan Partridge 46)
Subs not used: Adam Colton, Andrew Osei-Siribour, Aaron Butcher (GK)
Ref: J Simpson (Marple)
Star Man: Will McCall