Variety is key for Ilkeston Town boss Lee Fowler in pre-season

Matt Baker (left) tussles against Notts County on Saturday.
Matt Baker (left) tussles against Notts County on Saturday.

Ilkeston Town boss Lee Fowler says he’s keen for his players to undergo some strenuous tests as they continue their pre-season schedule.

Saturday’s 5-0 loss to Notts County left Fowler with mixed feelings overall as to what he saw from his squad, the Welshman acknowledging that the Magpies were always going to be an extremely tough side to play against.

And with National League high-flyers Solihull Moors to visit on Saturday and then AFC Telford United of the National League North next Tuesday night, Fowler is hoping for the quality produced by those sides to enable the Robins players to up their games accordingly.

He said: “What I’m mostly after is togetherness, bravery and sticking to the game plan, which are the things I wanted most out of Saturday against Notts County. I was disappointed in a sense because I felt we produced that for 20 minutes or so but then it dropped off once we were a goal or two down.

"Results are irrelevant - I know we are likely to lose against sides like the ones we are facing in this little batch of games given the gulf in class, but the games are showing me who I can trust to go with when the season gets underway.

“The first three games were ones we would more or less have been expected to win, even the Airbus game in a sense. These three matches are the opposite but will highlight different things, then we have Basford and Grantham which will be a lot closer to the quality we’ll face in the league.”

Ilkeston now know they will start the new season with an FA Cup tie, having been accepted into the competition for the first time.

They had been forbidden from entering in the past due to owner Alan Hardy’s conflict of interests with Notts County, but with the Magpies’ sale believed to be imminent, Ilkeston have been allowed entry.

That means they will travel to Lougborough University on August 10, the same club they played their last competitive game when they won the Midlands Football League there back in April, although it is expected the match will take place at the home of Loughborough Dynamo as the University's pitch is not due to be ready in time.

That will then be followed by the new season’s opener at home to Cleethorpes Town a week later.

Fowler said: “I expect Loughborough will set up in a similar way to before in that they’ll pass out from the back and they’ll be up for it given what we did to them before.

“We’ll be positive again though and an FA Cup run would be fantastic for the club.”

Fowler added that he is continuing to assess various players who have featured in pre-season but who are yet to sign, adding: “We had Courtney Richards play on Saturday, who has great experience at National League level with Macclesfield and Braintree, while Brandon Ganley did well in goal and we’re hoping he’ll sign to replace Liam Mitchell (see HERE)

“We’re having a look at striker Jordan Ndat as well and will get more of a look at these lads in the coming games.”