Ilkeston FC 1 Stocksbridge PS 0
Substitute Dereece Gardner scored with virtually his first touch as Ilkeston secured just their second league win of the season at the NMG on Saturday.
The match was far from a classic but it was one the Robins deserved to win as they kept their good form going following a string of recent cup successes.
Steels offered little going forward while at the other end the hosts were often guilty of over-playing in the final third once again, but in the end they did enough to take all three points.
James Reid was first to threaten on ten minutes when he cut inside before firing wide with his weaker right foot, before Jack Watts saw a low effort partially blocked by former Ilkeston Town goalkeeper Ben Scott with Aaron Hooton just unable to get to the loose ball before it was cleared.
Despite Ilkeston’s early dominance it was Steels who had the best chance of the half on 25 minutes. Nicky Darker put a right-wing cross straight onto the head of Janni Lipka who was in a startling amount of space six yards out, but he nodded wide of the post when it seemed easier to score.
Dion Chambers came close to giving Ilkeston a half-time lead when his strike from just outside the penalty area was tipped over by Scott as the ball headed towards the top corner, while Ryan Wilson saw an effort blocked in first-half injury-time after Scott had dropped Reid’s cross.
It was pretty much all Ilkeston in the second-half, debutant Jordan Smith, who was generally quiet throughout, first to show with a weak shot at Scott when well placed ten yards out.
Chambers had another crack on 54 but saw his placed effort go inches wide, before Reid hit a free-kick straight at Scott from 30 yards.
There followed something of a lull in proceedings but things suddenly came to life again on 69 minutes with the winning goal.
Gardner had been introduced in place of the injured Hooton just seven minutes earlier and, having made a lively debut as sub against Gresley just seven days earlier, again announced his arrival in style.
Watts’ ball in from the right hand side found the teenager ten yards from goal, and he controlled before firing home a low shot.
Steels sub James Booker hit an effort straight at Ashley Timms in a rare attack and Lincoln Adams did similar towards the end, while Gardner missed a great chance to make it 2-0 when he capitalised on an error at the back and beat a defender before completely mis-hitting from eight yards out and seeing his effort dribble wide.
But his earlier goal was enough and three points were secure.
Ilkeston: 1 Ashley Timms 2 Joe Wilcox 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Dion Chambers 5 Dan Partridge 6 Joe Maguire 7 Jack Watts 8 Matt Richards 9 Aaron Hooton (Dereece Gardner 62) 10 Jordan Smith (Daryll Thomas 79) 11 James Reid (Will McCall 86). Subs not used: Greg Pearson, Chris Martin
Scorers: Gardner 69 Stocksbridge PS: 1 Ben Scott 2 Nick Swirad 3 Ben Turner 4 Lincoln Adams (c) 5 Brett Bowden-Lovell 6 Grant Darley (James Booker 60) 7 Nicky Darker 8 Janni Lipka (Cole Payne 79) 9 Danny South 10 Nathan Joynes 11 Alex Callery. Subs not used: Harry Bookarie, Laurence Hunter, Darren Schofield
Ref: Matthew Wilkes (Stourbridge)
Star Robin: James Reid
by Mark Duffy