REPORT: Ilkeston 3-2 Stourport Swifts

Elliott Reeves in action against Stourport. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Elliott Reeves in action against Stourport. Photo by Craig Lamont.

Ilkeston Town got their season off to a winning start with victory over Stourport Swifts on Saturday.

It took an 87th minute winner to do it but on balance the Robins just about deserved the victory, based largely on a far better second-half having looked a little lethargic for much of the first.

And while many lessons will have been learned as Ilkeston begin life at step five, they'll take great heart from winning the opener in such a fashion.

Ilkeston had the first opening four minutes in when Alex Marshall was fed by Kyle Dixon but his left-footed shot was well saved by the legs of Dominic Richards.

From the corner, Elliott Reeves headed against the bar when he found space at the back post.

Marshall had another chance moments later when again Dixon put him through but this time the shot was skewed wide of the post.

But it was Swifts who took the lead against the run of play on ten minutes. The ball found its way far too easily from midfield to front line and when Mark Danks was put in on goal he finished well past Mitchell.

Jamie Walker volleyed over the top as the Robins responded, but the equaliser arrived with Ilkeston's next attack.

Alex Marshall won the ball in midfield and fed Reeves who beat the offside trap, rounded Richards and slotted the ball into the empty net.

Mitchell palmed away a Drew Canavan free-kick as Swifts aimed to get themselves back in front, then Andrew Nicol was denied by a combination of Mitchell and the post on 25 minutes after Danks had again caused problems, Danks then forcing Mitchell to push a curling shot past the post.

Swifts were by now the stronger side and Oliver Mulders shot straight at Mitchell on 32 minutes, Canavan's 30-yarder then drilled just wide five minutes later and Mulders again going close just before half-time.

Then, right on the break, Mitchell spilled a Mulders free-kick before blocking Danks' follow-up for a corner.

The Robins began the second-half well and when Reeves' break down the right ended with a cross parried by Richards, Lavell White put the loose ball wide although it came to him quickly.

Dixon shot wide from just outside the penalty area soon afterwards, then White volleyed over when a long throw found him at the far post when he really should have hit the target.

Billy Bennett broke forward on 63 minutes and forced Richards to push his shot wide, but from the corner swung in by Tom Marshall, Shaun Rickford had a free header which he planted low and hard into the net for a debut goal.

Sub Malachi Lavelle-Moore nearly got a third but Richards gathered, then with Swifts' first first effort of the half, newly-arrived Jack Downing shot straight at Mitchell when he should have scored.

Swifts then levelled against the run of play, when a right-wing corner was headed towards goal and Nicol got a slight touch to divert it home.

Walker struck the crossbar soon afterwards with a 25-yard free-kick, before Swifts' Ben Priest volleyed well wide when in a good position with ten minutes to go.

Reeves was then sent in on goal but, approaching from a slight angle, he took too long to decide what to do and rather than shooting was crowded out by goalkeeper and defender who blocked for a corner.

The game was very finely poised with both sides looking likely to score the winner, Nicol heading just over the top from a fine Downing cross on 82 minutes.

But it was the Robins who netted on 87 minutes as a free-kick from wide out on the left was knocked back across goal by Ryan Whitehurst and Lavelle-Moore was free to volley home from six yards out for what would prove to be the winner.

Ilkeston: Mitchell, T Marshall, Bennett, Dixon (c), Rickford, Jemson, White (Whitehurst 60), J Wheatley, A Marshall (Lavelle-Moore 60), Reeves (Hopkinson 83), Walker

Subs not used: R Wheatley, Green

Stourport: Richards, Hanson (Molloy 77), Platt, Priest, Griffiths (c), Fulloway, Billingham, Danks (Stratford 70), Nicol, Canavan, Mulders (Downing 70)

Subs not used: Grant, Parker

Ref: James Scerri

Att: 609

Star Robin: Kyle Dixon