Evo-Stik Premier Division Ilkeston FC 1 AFC Fylde 1
Gary Ricketts was Ilkeston’s saviour once again as they began the season with a point at home to AFC Fylde on Saturday.
Ricketts struck just three minutes after Adam Sumner had put the visitors in front early in the second-half, the 37-year-old showing his worth again after being top scorer in the last campaign.
The draw was ultimately a fair result, with Fylde, who like Ilkeston were promoted last season, looking a very decent side throughout and always a threat going forward.
The Robins, meanwhile, were left to reflect on a poor first-half as one of the reasons they didn’t win this game.
Fylde opened proceedings in threatening fashion.
James Dean was inches from connecting with Michael Barnes’ low cross six minutes in, and before 20 minutes were up Joe Booth had seen a free-kick from out wide tipped past the post by debutant goalkeeper Chris Martin and Barnes had put a great chance over the bar when through one-on-one after an error by Joe Wilcox.
Ricketts had Ilkeston’s first effort of note with a header over the top from Jack Watts’ corner, but aside from a speculative long distance strike from Matt Richards on half-time which cleared the crossbar, Ilkeston had little more to offer.
The second-half was all Fylde’s for ten minutes. Booth fired over in a good position early one, before the visitors then took the lead on 52 when good interplay between Paul Jarvis, Dean and Sumner saw the latter eventually fire home from a narrow angle.
The lead lasted just three minutes, as Laurie Wilson’s left-wing free-kick saw keeper Ben Hinchliffe mis-judge the flight of the ball and Ricketts was able to head home despite the efforts of a defender on the line.
The game then became much more lively, Matty Hughes and Jarvis both going close for Fylde and Laurie Wilson for the hosts.
The final five minutes saw great opportunities for both sides to claim all three points.
For Ilkeston, Ricketts headed against the bar from Laurie Wilson’s free-kick and Dan Partridge couldn’t turn in the rebound, and then sub James Reid blazed a half-volley over the top when in space 12 yards out after Watts flicked on Alex Ford’s cross.
Fylde sub Jack Dorney then skewed wide from six yards out in the dying seconds after a low cross into the penalty area, and a collective sigh of both relief and frustration was heard around the New Manor Ground as the points were ultimately shared.
Ilkeston: Martin, Wilcox, R Wilson, L Wilson, Partridge, Cooke, Watts, Richards, Ricketts, Thomas (Clarke 45, Ford 86), McCall (Reid 84)
Subs not used: Pearson, Timms, Ford
Fylde: Hinchliffe, Carden, Sumner, Hughes, Steel, B Barnes, Booth (Doughty 64), Winter (Dorney 84), Dean (McCarthy 70), M Barnes, Jarvis.
Subs not used: McDonald, Kay.
Ref: Alan Hull (Sheffield)
Star Robin: Gary Ricketts
by Mark Duffy