Ilkeston FC manager Kevin Wilson says preparations for the new season have been stepped up to the next level now that the fixtures are out.
The Robins are to start their Evo-Stik League Premier Division campaign at Witton Albion on Saturday, August 16.
The first home game for Ilkeston will be on Monday, August 18, when Stourbridge are the visitors, but Wilson says he has no problems with the Robins starting their campaign on the road.
“It’s fine for us. We looked good away from home last year, we put in some good appearances.
“It’s at home that we needed to make improvements. We want to make the New Manor Ground a fortress, somewhere that other teams don’t like coming to play at.
“It’s nice to know where you’re going for your first game, it makes it all a bit more real for everyone now.
“It’s good to be able to see where you will be at certain times of the seasons, looking for certain matches that you can plan for. That’s the main thing now - the pre-season planning goes up to the next level.”
The Robins’ pre-season matches continue to come thick and fast. Last Tuesday, League Two side Burton Albion were the visitors and were beaten 1-0 thanks to an early penalty.
On Saturday, Ilkeston made the short trip to take on Long Eaton United, now of the Midlands Football League, where they came away with a 3-0 victory.
The goalscorers for the Robins were Eli Bako, Mike Williams and Kane Richards.
The Robins then took on Premier League newcomers Leicester City at the New Manor Ground on Tuesday night, the Foxes showing their superior quality in a 6-1 win with Andre Johnson’s late consolation goal the only joy Ilkeston had.
Speaking before the Leicester game, Wilson reflected on the most recent batch of matches. He said: “It’s going well at the moment and after the Leicester match we’ve reached the stage where all of the players have had a decent amount of game time.
“It’s important to get plenty of minutes into their legs and I think we’ve been able to do that.
“We’ve had no injuries or strains so far, so pre-season is going well for us.
“There were some good goals against Long Eaton. In the first half, I didn’t feel we got the tempo quite right or kept the ball enough, but once they went down to ten men, it presented a different challenge.
“It was all about keeping the ball, working the ten men hard, going from side to side a bit more to tire them and we did better in that situation and scored some good goals too.
On Saturday, the Robins make the trip to North Ferriby United but their scheduled game on Tuesday, July 28 against Staveley MW has been cancelled.
“That game is off now but if we find the right fixture we will slot it in there.
“We are fortunate that we are training in the afternoons now, so we can always sort out a behind-closed-doors game if necesdary or something that we can keep in-house.”
Meanwhile, Wilson’s son, Ryan, has secured a move away from the Robins to Conference Premier side Gateshead where he joins up with former Ilkeston coach Darren Caskey. More in next week’s Advertiser.