Ilkeston 1 FC Buxton 1
Antwan Russell made a couple of runs and showed lots of endeavour as 387 chilled fans witnessed a bit of history at the New Manor Ground on Thursday, writes Rod Malcolm.
In 23 minutes of action after arriving as a substitute, the speedy forward became the first current international to play for Ilkeston or the club from which it grew.
His efforts quickened the pulse and helped the Robins dominate the final stages of this Evo-Stik Premier game. But ultimately it was not enough to beat the visitors, who are hopeful of reaching the play-offs.
Yet it left the Bermudan international looking forward to making an impact after swapping his sunny home for the sub-zero Erewash Valley on a night under the floodlights.
“I hope people will say ‘this boy can play a bit,’” he said after the game, when he revealed that he had scored in four of his last five international games.
If the Arsenal fan keeps that up and his career prospers, many more than 387 souls will probably claim to have seen his debut in this foreign field, which had him saying:”It was different to what I am used to, more physical but good.
“When I left it was 75 degrees and I was in my shorts but I am sure I will get used to it here. I am really looking forward to it and playing,” added Russell, whose career highlight was a vital goal in a World Cup qualifier against Trinidad.
From the bench, he had seen Buxton have the better of things early on. They took the lead in 14 minutes from Lee Morris, who scored with a well-placed lob after the Bucks had settled well with former Robin Steve Istead conducting their choir in midfield.
There was an exotic run by former Ilkeston favourite Sam Duncum but the cross was cleared. Matt Thornhill rammed a shot against the side netting before Ilkeston came alive.
Laurie Wilson, who captained the young Robins’ side, was prodding the visitors’ defence with some imaginative passes. Then he tried the direct approach and his shot was only a yard off beam.
Playing largely on the right, James Reid foxed two markers and his shot was blocked before Laurie Wilson again came close.
The equaliser arrived in the 48th minute and from an unlikely source, the head of Reid, who was sensibly wearing a pair of woolly gloves.
Better known for sleight of foot, Reid bravely nodded the ball in while keeper Ian Deakin was trying to punch clear from his goalline. The Bucks’ defence had been bamboozled by Ricketts and Laurie Wilson during a spell of dominance.
As they tried to build on that, the tireless Jack Watts had a shot headed away and Deakin had to make a fine save to keep out a Ricketts header.
Midfield man Neil Stevens was close to a late goal for Buxton but so was Joe Maguire for Ilkeston, with a free kick which rose over the bar in the fourth minute of added time. Ilkeston: Martin, Partridge, R Wilson, L Wilson, Maguire, Storey, Reid, Watts, Ricketts, Ford [Russell 63], K Richards.
Unused subs: Cullingworth, Peel, O’Connell, Pearson.
Buxton: Deakin, Black [Lugsden 68], Green, Istead, Palmer, Roberts, Stevens, Thornhill [Towey 46], Morris [Reed 46], Maxfield, Duncum.
Unused subs: Haggerty, Muller.
Referee: J Clark.
Ilkeston Man of the Match: L Wilson.