The Derbyshire Senior Cup is a tournament Ilkeston FC have always taken a liking to and their second successive defence of the trophy began well at the Town Ground on Tuesday night.
This 3-1 win was played out in torrid conditions but the Robins ultimately deserved to progress through against a Heanor side that worked hard but lacked the quality to really damage the visitors.
The Lions missed their fair share of good chances that could, had they have gone in, made for a far more interesting final half-an-hour or so, Mike Williams’ double eventually doing enough as he continued his good record this season of scoring in all of the games he’s started
Ilkeston started well and their early pressure was rewarded on eight minutes when Ashley Hunter was sent clear. He beat Ian Deakin to the ball and knocked it wide of him but Rai Simons was better placed to add the finishing touch and did so into an empty net.
Hunter then saw a low free-kick from just outside the penalty area held by Deakin, before Eli Bako sent Hunter away down the right but when Bako got in the middle to meet the latter’s ball into the penalty area, the young midfielder shot wide when he really should have scored.
Heanor’s first effort on target came 27 minutes in when Kieran Debrouwer’s free-kick was weakly at Jordan Smith in the Robins goal.
Simons should have made it two when he somehow fired over the top from six yards out after Hunter’s knock down, then at the other end Gary Ricketts saw a shot deflected over.
The equaliser arrived from the subsequent corner when the ball wasn’t cleared by the Robins and Kieran Wells was able to hammer home from close range.
Debrouwer then put a great opportunity wide on 39 minutes when in space just outside the penalty area, then Greg Marriott’s half volley was also wide from distance.
There was still time for Ilkeston to create a good opening just before the break, good work by Hunter ending with Williams shooting too high when in a good position.
It took just four minutes of the second-half for Ilkeston to re-establish their lead. Bako was fouled just outside the penalty area and Williams fired a fine free-kick into the far corner.
Wells looked Heanor’s biggest threat and he saw a low shot superbly tipped round the post by Smith on 56 minutes, before the game dropped into a lull not helped by the horrid wind and rain.
Hunter nearly made it three when sent through by Danny Gordon but Deakin was equal to his shot, before at the other end Robins legend Ricketts missed a golden opening when he put a free header wide from six yards out after a cross from Chris Shaw.
The hosts wouldn’t get another chance as good as that and eventually Ilkeston got control in the final stages, the win sealed in stoppage time when Curtis Burrows’ fine tackle set up a counter-attack which ended with Kane Richards hitting the post and Williams netting his second from the follow up - a club record seventh straight win in all competitions secured.
Heanor: 1 Ian Deakin, 2 Greg Marriott, 3 Chris Shaw, 4 Jason Gregory (Jack Andrews 81), 5 Ross Henshaw, 6 Marc Strzyzewski, 7 Nick Hall, 8 Dan Booth, 9 Gary Ricketts, 10 Kieran Wells (Callum Thompson 83), 11 Kieran Debrouwer
Subs not used: Jamie McNicholas, Oliver Naylor, Matt Bower
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith, 2 Jack Oldham (David Morgan 77), 3 Curtis Burrows, 4 Matt Baker, 5 Akil Wright, 6 Jack Lane, 7 Danny Gordon, 8 Eli Bako, 9 Rai Simons (Kane Richards 69), 10 Mike Williams, 11 Ashley Hunter
Subs not used: Haydn Goddard, Callum Chettle, Kumari Hill-Jahquil
Ref: Oliver Bickle
Star Robin: Ashley Hunter
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)