SATURDAY’S 5-0 thumping of Shepshed Dynamo may have guaranteed Ilkeston FC an Evo-Stik Division One South play-off place but manager Kevin Wilson has urged his players still to keep their focus, in case leaders Grantham slip up during this weekend’s crucial Easter double-header.
The Robins returned to action on Saturday in emphatic fashion after a two-week break, in a home game that saw five different players get on the scoresheet, including a screamer from Matt Richards and a strike for Francis Green, who has returned to play his football in the town.
Green, 32, who started his career at Ilkeston Town, joined on non-contract terms last week after being released by cash-strapped Eastwood Town.
Kevin Wilson explained: “We went into the Shepshed game knowing we had to start strongly after the two-week break – and we did. Although they were at the bottom, we approached it in the right way and the performance was up to the standard we’ve come to expect.
“We did what we needed to do, atlhough I felt we could have got more goals actually, because we were not quite as clinical in the final third as we could have been, but generally we were happy with how it went.
“It’s ‘squeaky bum time’ for everyone now we’re reaching the business end of the season but we got the three points, improved our goal difference and we had five different scorers too, so that was pleasing.
“We’ve been looking for everyone to chip in. Gary Ricketts has led the way with 20 goals and Daryll Thomas has backed him up well, but when the others help out too, it can only be a good thing.”
The strike from Matt Richards was from distance and caught the eye. It certainly pleased the crowd, his manager and his teammates.
Wilson continued: “We were looking at shooting with Matt on Thursday because we’ve wanted him to add goals to his game and it’s obviously paid off! That’s the kind of ability he has and you could see everyone was absolutely delighted for him. Jack Watts deserved a goal too and Francis Green was on target. He adds ability and important experiece and he’s got a touch of class.”
This weekend’s fixtures see second-placed Ilkeston, eight points behind Grantham with four games to go, travel to play Kidsgrove on Saturday before entertaining Hucknall on Monday.
“It was a nice way to secure a play-off place and we’ve got an important weekend now. Until it’s mathetically impossible, we will continue to believe we can catch Granthan and will focus on winning our own games rather than thinking too much about theirs. And obviously we’ve still got to play them on the last game of the season.
“Funnily enough, I was saying to Darren (Caskey) that we are just about where we expected to be, in terms of position and the players we’ve got. It’s just unfortunate Grantham have had such a fantastic season and are ahead of us. If they end up winning the league, we congratulate them but until the time comes when we mathematically can’t catch them, we keep focusing on getting our points in the bag.
“We’ve seen funny things happen to teams out in front so we have to be in a position to take advantage if they slip up, as the worst thing would be if they we dropped points when they’d dropped points.”
“This time of year, with a double header over the Easter weekend, is the period where you start to get a few niggles and Gary Ricketts might be one of those we manage carefully over the weekend as we’re not sure he can play two in a short space of time because he’s got a niggle. But on the other hand, Lawrie Wilson completes the second game of his suspension so we should have him back for the Hucknall game, which will be a boost.”