'There's more to come from us' says Ilkeston Town boss Mark Clifford

Mark Clifford has overseen an encouraging start to Ilkeston's season. Photo by Danny Draper.
Mark Clifford has overseen an encouraging start to Ilkeston's season. Photo by Danny Draper.

Mark Clifford has challenged his Ilkeston Town side to go on another unbeaten run after their previous one was ended on Tuesday night.

The Robins led until the 70th minute at league leaders Leek Town before the hosts turned the game around to win 2-1, aided by two Ilkeston red cards.

But Clifford took heart from the overall display from his side and felt the match officials did the Robins no favours.

He said: “We have gone away to a top side and given a really good account of ourselves.

“We were very good for 70 minutes and having got the early lead and created several chances, at half-time I couldn’t see a threat coming our way in the second-half but fair play to Leek who came out and did what they had to do.

“I felt the red card for our goalkeeper [Richard Stainsby] was very harsh as the ref said he sent him off for dangerous play but their lad has been smart and jumped into him.

“The ref was poor all game, which the Leek management agreed with and they felt it shouldn’t have been a red card. The ref got lots wrong including the simple and straightforward decisions.

“But I’m not bitter; circumstances cost us and we now have to move on. Leek’s guys said we were the best side they’ve faced so far and we had lots of compliments.”

Striker Alex Marshall also saw red in stoppage time with Clifford adding: “It’s difficult with Alex as he’s a full-blooded player and even though he got a good connection with the ball, it was deemed too reckless.

“Five years ago that wouldn’t have been a red card but it’s not allowed now, so we just have to suck it up and move on.”

Tuesday’s defeat followed a 3-1 success at Frickley Athletic on Saturday which stretched the Robins’ unbeaten run to five games.

Clifford said: “We were much better in the final third than we had been in previous games.

“We were far more clinical and that gave us a good head start in the game.

“It was important we didn’t switch off at half-time as we’d heard the Frickley management team tearing strips off their players at the break, and they pressed us really high in the second-half and did really well, but we’d done enough in the first-half to give ourselves that breathing space.”

Ilkeston now prepare to host Market Drayton Town at the New Manor Ground on Saturday, before then travelling to face Buxton in the first round of the Integro League Cup next Tuesday night.

Clifford said: “We can’t dwell on Tuesday’s game and I want the lads to look ahead and begin another good unbeaten run.

“I feel there’s still lots more to come from us and I want us to put on a good show for the fans on Saturday.

“The support has been phenomenal. There was a double decker bus full of fans that came to Leek on Tuesday which for a midweek game is incredible and we are grateful to them all.

“The lads see that and are keen to put a good performance for the supporters every time, especially at home.”