Unbeaten run ends as Rangers take the points

Gary Ricketts (centre) tries to create an opening for Ilkeston. Photo by Rob Stephenson.
Gary Ricketts (centre) tries to create an opening for Ilkeston. Photo by Rob Stephenson.

Ilkeston FC 0 Stafford Rangers 2

Ilkeston FC produced a somewhat stale return to league action as Stafford Rangers deservedly took all three points at the New Manor Ground on Saturday.

The Robins hadn’t played a league game since January 12 but any hope they’d be raring to go and full of zest failed to materialise, with a fairly dull encounter decided by a goal in each half from the visitors.

Rangers earned the points by virtue of strong defensive work and a couple of decent finishes for the goals and leapfrogged their hosts in the table as a result.

Ilkeston threatened first as Laurie Wilson’s free header from a corner was put well over the top, and on 11 minutes a long throw from debutant Jake Wholey caused havoc in the penalty area and Aaron Hooton’s turn and volley was straight at Adam Alcock in the Rangers goal.

The visitors’ first notable opportunity came on 31 minutes when Fabrice Kasiama’s fine half volley from Karl Ashton’s cross was just too high, with Kasiama threatening again six minutes later but seeing his shot parried away by Chris Martin after cutting in from the right hand side.

Gary Ricketts’ looping header from Hooton’s up-and-under cross dropped wide on 38, but it was to be the visitors who would make the breakthrough just three minutes later.

There was a strong suspicion of offside against Danny Quinn as the ball was pumped forward to him, something Ilkeston’s defence and bench were quick to address the assistant referee about once the Rangers frontman had fed strike partner Ashton who finished superbly off the underside of the crossbar to put Stafford in front.

Half-time saw two new faces introduced for Ilkeston, Cameron Darkwah, in what would prove to be his only appearance for the club, and Kieran O’Connell, whose bright and energetic 45 minutes suggested his impact will be a far greater one at the New Manor Ground.

Rangers nearly made it 2-0 early on as a corner resulted in Quinn having a shot blocked and then Liam Walshe’s rebound being pushed away well by Martin.

O’Connell’s cross then found the returning Jide Maduako in space but his header was straight at Alcock, and the Robins’ failure to convert such chances would come to haunt them on 70 minutes as Stafford scored again.

Kasiama swung a corner in from the right hand side and Walshe got up at the near post to superbly nod a powerful effort over Martin and into the roof of the net from eight yards out.

That was the end of the scoring but chances still came for the home side, O’Connell doing well to create two chances for Ricketts but one was put over the bar and the other saved superbly at point-blank range by Alcock.

Laurie Wilson and namesake Ryan also saw late efforts go close, but the Robins had lacked a spark throughout and their first defeat in ten games was secured.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ilkeston: 1 Chris Martin 2 Rob Kozluk (Dan Partridge 60) 3 Jake Wholey 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Joe Maguire 6 Jide Maduako 7 Jack Watts (Cameron Darkwah 46) 8 Ryan Wilson 9 Gary Ricketts (c) 10 Aaron Hooton (Kieran O’Connell 46) 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: James Reid, Russell Cooke

Stafford: 1 Adam Alcock 2 Luke George 3 Ryan Brown 4 Liam Walshe 5 James Bolton 6 Christian Dacres 7 Peter Heler 8 Lee Downes (c) 9 Karl Ashton 10 Daniel Quinn (Oliver Davies 87) 11 Fabrice Kasiama. Subs not used: Jimmy Turner, Sean Kinsella, Levi Reid, Alex Curtis

Scorers: Ashton 41, Walshe 70

Att: 515 Ref: Geoff Law (Leicester)

Star Robin: Kieran O’Connell

by Mark Duffy