Robins are too good for promotion rivals

Josh Hill scored Ilkeston's first goal.
Josh Hill scored Ilkeston's first goal.

ILKESTON FC produced a fine display to earn three vital points at Stamford on Saturday.

Evo Stik Division One South


Jake Gibson 28

Nick Ghislanzoni 32


Josh Hill 22

Jack Watts 29

James Reid 81

Gary Ricketts 87

by Mark Duffy

ROBINS boss Kevin Wilson said before this game that nothing is won in December and it’s who has the most points come the end of April that will deserve to be promoted.

That may be true, but even he must have realised the potential significance of claiming three points against one of Ilkeston’s main promotion rivals - revenge for Stamford’s win at the New Manor Ground back in October.

It was one of the Robins’ best away performances of the season so far, despite the concession of two sloppy goals in an action-packed first-half and the fact that it took them until the final ten minutes to make the points safe.

Stamford’s Danny Steadman was the first to sting the palms of Robins keeper Alex Archer with an effort from 25 yards out which was parried away in the fifth minute.

Ilkeston’s first real opening came on 14, when Matt Richards found space to cross to the back post where debutant Jack Watts volleyed wide of Mario Ziccardi’s near post.

Watts went close again on 20 after being fed by Daryll Thomas but shot too high when in a good position.

But a flurry of four goals in ten minutes then suddenly brought the game fully to life.

It was from a left-wing corner that the Robins were to take the lead on 22 minutes. James Reid’s kick was cleared out to centre-back Josh Hill on the edge of the penalty area, and he had time to pick his spot and drive a low shot through a crowded box and into the corner of the net.

A somewhat fortuitous goal got Stamford level on 28 minutes, when a seemingly simple situation should have been dealt with by Archer who dived to smother a through ball, but it slipped from his grasp and Jake Gibson was able to slide home from a tight angle.

A minute later the Robins were back in front. Thomas eased a pass through to Watts and he finished well into the far corner of the net.

But the drama continued three minutes later. Nathan Watson got down the right and pulled the ball across for Nick Ghislanzoni, playing against his home town club, to turn in from six yards out.

Ryan Wilson drilled a fine effort wide before Archer had another nervous moment when a ball back to him was cleared straight to Bruno Holden. The striker should then have put the ball in the net but Archer redeemed himself by pushing his effort away from a corner.

And he had to be alert again from the flag kick, when Joe Pheasant - once an Ilkeston player - volleyed at goal but Archer tipped his shot wide.

Watts was next to show with a stunning curler which Ziccardi had to dive full length to tip over the crossbar, and Reid sent a free-kick just wide on 42 before also seeing a shot blocked when he looked a certain scorer just before the break.

After such a breathless first-half the second would take some living up to, but in terms of chances created it couldn’t quite do that.

It started well, Richards flicking just wide of the post from Reid’s cross six minutes in as the Robins sought to regain their advantage.

Thomas then drilled wide after working himself into a good position after 59 minutes, and Watts tried another curler which this time was held by Ziccardi.

The Robins’ third goal finally came with nine minutes to go when the ball was fed into Reid around the penalty spot and he turned a defender before confidently stroking home for his first Ilkeston goal.

And the fourth came on 87 when Reid swung in a corner from the left and Gary Ricketts, who had been having a very off afternoon in front of goal up to that point, headed home to seal the points, which coupled with favourable results elsewhere meant Ilkeston were back up to second in the table.

Ilkeston: 1 Alex Archer 2 James Cullingworth 3 Ryan Wilson (Joe Wilcox 46) 4 Joe Maguire 5 Josh Hill 6 Russell Cooke (c) 7 Jack Watts 8 Matt Richards 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Daryll Thomas (Tyrell Waite 90) 11 James Reid. Subs not used: Ashley Robinson, Andrew Osei-Siribour, Adam Colton

Att: 381 Ref: D Naylor

Star Robin: Matt Richards