Rushall Olympic 2 Ilkeston FC 1
Old enemy Dave Walker struck twice to send Ilkeston home with nothing on a wet Tuesday night in the West Midlands.
Walker, who also scored in a win against the Robins for Kidsgrove Athletic last season, this time notched two straightforward goals to defeat an Ilkeston side unable to cope with the hosts’ physical presence.
The visitors struggled to find any rhythm and James Reid’s free-kick in the dying seconds of the match was all they had to offer as consolation.
Rushall largely controlled the first-half although Jamie Clarke’s header nearly beat keeper Chris Gemmell on ten minutes but was well held.
Nothing much happened after that until the opening goal on 21 minutes, as Walker found space in the penalty area to powerfully head home Lee Brown’s cross.
Matt Richards’ free-kick straight at Gemmell was as close as Ilkeston would come in the first period, while at the other end Louis Keenan’s similar effort took a deflection to wrong foot Chris Martin but the ball came back off a post.
Wayne Daniel saw a header cleared off the line by Ryan Wilson just before half-time, but it was to be only three minutes into the second period when Walker’s brace was completed as he was again set up by Brown, this time with a neat through ball, to finish well past Martin.
Chances became few and far between as the match degenerated into a scrappy affair on a slippery pitch, Richards close for the Robins with a volley and Martin keeping out a Brown strike at the other end.
The arrival for Ilkeston of lanky striker Alex Ford added another dimension and he twice saw headers go close, first from a Richards cross and then after Greg Pearson had nodded on a corner from the left-hand side.
But ultimately all the Robins could muster was substitute Reid’s 25-yard daisy-cutter with virtually the last kick, his set piece finding the corner of the net to give the travelling Robins fans at least something to cheer on a frustrating night.
Rushall: 1 Chris Gemmell 2 Kyle Haynes 3 Louis Keenan 4 Lucan Spittle 5 Wayne Daniel 6 Mitchell Tolley 7 Steve Abbott 8 Decio Gomes 9 Michael Clarke (Abu Islam 79) 10 Dave Walker 11 Lee Brown (Josh Craddock 86). Subs not used: Grant Beckett, Jonny Haynes, Nick Amos
Scorers: Walker 21, 48 Ilkeston: 1 Chris Martin 2 Joe Wilcox 3 Ryan Wilson (Greg Pearson 46) 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Dan Partridge 6 Russell Cooke 7 Jack Watts 8 Matt Richards 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Jamie Clarke (Alex Ford 68) 11 Will McCall (James Reid 79). Subs not used: Joe Maguire, Ashley Timms. Scorer: Reid 90+2
Att: 248 Ref: B Rodgers