REPORT: Ilkeston Town 1-2 Eastwood CFC (FA Vase) - Robins stunned by Red Badgers

Elliot Reeves in action against Eastwood. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Elliot Reeves in action against Eastwood. Photo by Craig Lamont.

Eastwood CFC produced a stunning defensive display to secure a shock win at Ilkeston Town on Saturday and reach the FA Vase fourth round.

The EMCL side, who play a level lower than their high-flying hosts, soaked up prolonged early pressure from the home side before taking a shock lead late in the first-half, and despite Ilkeston equalising early in the second, a stunning winner from teenager Kieran Knight just a minute later was enough to take them through.

Ilkeston lacked enough attacking ideas in the second-half as they failed to reproduce the intensity of their first-half display, and also failed to break down a resolute Red Badgers defence.

It also ended a 12-win streak of home wins for the Robins who can now, at least, look back towards the challenge of winning the MFL Premier Division title as they remain favourites to do.

The first opening came Ilkeston's way as Jamie Walker was fed by Elliot Reeves and the winger's low shot was saved by the legs of Jack Walker and went out for a corner.

Tim Hopkinson headed a Tom Marshall cross wide of the target two minutes later as the hosts got a firm grip on proceedings early on, Walker then nodding over the top from Ryan Wheatley's centre and Reeves doing similar from another Tom Marshall delivery on 14 minutes.

Walker's strong break forward ended with Reeves shooting straight at Walker on 18, then another lone counter from Walker saw him start from deep, run on and strike the foot of the post with a low effort, although he had good options either side of him.

Eastwood had offered little until the 34th minute but suddenly came closest to scoring when a corner wasn't cleared and Joe Butler's spectacular overhead kick came back off the post and was gathered by Liam Mitchell.

Walker saw another effort beaten away as half-time approached with, somehow, still no goals to show for an entertaining game, although Knight then forced Mitchell into a save down as Eastwood countered from a Robins corner.

Then, with a minute to go to the break, the visitors made Ilkeston pay for missing their chances. They won the ball in midfield and John Whitehurst threaded a fine through ball into Paddy Webb and he ran on to finish low past Mitchell and give Eastwood an unlikely half-time lead.

It took just three minutes of the second-half for Ilkeston to get level. Walker was afforded too much space on the edge of the penalty area and his shot deflected up and over his namesake in goal to level the scores.

But within a minute, the visitors were back in front with a stunning goal. Teenager Kieran Knight has been spending time with Sheffield Wednesday's youth setup recently and showed why they like him as he cut inside from the right and curled a superb strike into the top corner from 25 yards out.

Ilkeston responded with Walker breaking forward and shooting high and wide, the hosts also showing a bit of frustration as they again faced having to chase the game.

Whitehurst tested Mitchell with a low shot from distance as Eastwood tried to kill the game off, then at the other end Walker shot too high after good work by Kyle Dixon, Walker also heading straight at the keeper with a header ten minutes from time.

Sub Alex Marshall saw a shot tipped wide in stoppage time, but in truth Ilkeston didn't do enough in the second-half and the visitors had worked their plan to perfection as the final whistle was met with jubilation among the Eastwood ranks.

Ilkeston: Mitchell, T Marshall, R Wheatley, Shaw (c) (A Marshall 82), Baker, Dixon, Fyfe, Hollis (White 73), Reeves, Hopkinson (Whitehurst 70), Walker

Subs not used: Lavelle-Moore, Rowland

Eastwood: Walker, Brooks (c), Meakin, James, Short, Hayes, Smith, Whitehurst (Mitchell 90+4), Knight, Webb (Sanders 84), Butler (H Allen 77)

Subs not used: Wrenn, J Allen

Ref: Lee Freeman

Att: 908