Report from ILKESTON TOWN 0-0 CLEETHORPES TOWN as the Robins are held in entertaining opener

Ilkeston welcomed over 600 fans to the NMG on Saturday.
Ilkeston welcomed over 600 fans to the NMG on Saturday.

Ilkeston Town claimed a well-earned point at home to highly-fancied Cleethorpes Town on Saturday in their opening NPL South East encounter

Considering the Robins side had been largely put together over the course of the last fortnight, their display at a sun-soaked New Manor Ground was as impressive as it was perhaps unexpected, Mark Clifford's side unlucky not to win after a pulsating last 20 minutes that saw them come close to netting a winner on several occasions.

But a point was more than satisfying for the new Robins boss and the team's supporters as they begin their latest new era.

Cleethorpes' Ben Davies saw a free-kick from 25 yards curve just wide ten minutes in with the first chance of the game, both sides having struggled to keep possession in the opening stages.

Nine minutes later, Brody Robertson cut inside from the left and hit a shot from an angle which Ross Durrant did well to push over the bar.

At the other end, Reco Fyfe shot low at Cleethorpes keeper Theo Richardson with the hosts' first major threat, the next not coming until the 36th minute when Mason Lee forced a good save from Richardson after Shaun Harrad's header had been blocked.

Cleethorpes' Jon Oglesby curled an effort just past the post right on half-time, which then arrived with chances having been few but Ilkeston happy to have more than held their own.

The visitors nearly led early in the second-half when Jack Richardson's cross found Scott Vernon but his effort was saved superbly by Durrant from point blank range to keep the scores level.

Chances again dried up despite promising play from both sides, in particular the hosts, before Dean Freeman was on hand to clear off the line when the ball fell to Cleethorpes skipper Alex Flett on 80 minutes.

Alex Marshall's header then flew inches wide after a fine cross from Conor Green as the hosts threatened a winner, then Harrad's header from Fyfe's cross hit the underside of the bar and rather fortunately fell into Richardson's hands rather than bouncing back over the line.

Harrad flicked a Fyfe corner just wide with six to go as the Robins really began to turn the screw, Marshall then suddenly sent through on goal from a Cleethorpes touch but hurried his shot and Richardson blocked his shot wide, Freeman's header saved low down from the corner.

Ultimately the game would end scoreless but it had been a fine effort from the hosts, their fans fully appreciative at the final whistle.

Ilkeston: Durrant, White, Green, Fyfe, T Smith, Freeman (c), F Smith, Hollis, Harrad, Nadat (A Marshall 71), Lee (Dear 71)

Subs not used: Palmer, Stainsby, Bastos

Cleethorpes: Richardson, Lowe, Oglesby, Davies, Clappison, Donald, J Richardson (Collins 65), Flett (c), Vernon, Robertson, Batty (Millson 65)

Subs not used: Buckley, Boswell, Fixter

Ref: Robert Hathaway

Att: 602

Star Robin: Ross Durrant