REPORT: Ilkeston FC 3-1 Nantwich Town

Liam Marshall celebrates his goal. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Liam Marshall celebrates his goal. Photo by Craig Lamont.

They say good things come to those who wait although eight games was probably a little longer than Ilkeston would have preferred in their quest for three points.

But that’s what they finally got against high-flying and free-scoring Nantwich at the New Manor Ground, a solid second-half display key to their first success since September 24.

A new formation and a few new faces created a sense of unpredictability before the game, Gavin Strachan opting for 5-3-2 with Olly Luto and Aiden Print providing the width and Joe Burgess and Joe Doyle playing in central midfield.

Debuts were handed to centre-back Jordan Wheatley and on loan striker Jack McKay while Eli Bako returned from injury to come off the bench with great effect in the second-half.

The new shape meant they were much harder to break down and also effective on the counter attack, chances converted and fewer goals let in this time in a reversal of fortunes to many of their recent games.

Nantwich, who had scored 41 goals in their opening 12 games, could only manage one this time around although it looked at half-time like that would be enough as the Robins initially struggled to create much in the final third.

They began well and a good move was rounded off by Lee Ndlovu firing over the top five minutes in after Mike Williams’ cross. Doyle then sent a long-range effort wide soon afterwards.

Nantwich nearly opened the scoring 13 minutes in. Steve Jones did well down the right and his cross was headed against a post by Matt Bell who was unmarked ten yards out.

Ndlovu sliced over after a Durrant clearance reached him, although he had plenty to do to get a shot in, before the game descended into something of a lull with no real openings created and the two teams cancelling each other out.

Josh Hancock flicked a corner just over the top for Nantwich to break the tedium on 35 minutes, but the same player would have better luck four minutes later.

When the ball reached Hancock just outside the box his half volley took a deflection and looped over Ross Durrant before finding the net off the underside of the bar.

Sam Hall fired over in space after a corner was nodded down to him just before the break, but Nantwich would go in at half-time ahead and deservedly so.

Jones found the side netting early in the second period for Nantwich, before Ndlovu set up Williams on the edge of the box following a mistake by Bell but the Welshman shot just too high.

Ilkeston had been struggling with balls in from out wide all game but when a good one finally arrived it brought the pivotal equaliser on 56 minutes.

Print was released down the right as the Robins broke forward and his fine cross was headed home by Ndlovu from six yards out.

Nantwich saw sub Elliot Osbourne and Jones both nearly put them in front before the Robins should have registered themselves when Ndlovu broke forward and found debutant McKay but his shot was drilled just too high.

The second Robins goal finally came on 68 minutes. A Williams free-kick from out on the left found skipper Liam Marshall at the back post and he controlled before hitting a fairly weak right foot shot which found its way past Terry Smith in the Dabbers goal.

Durrant got down low to push another Osbourne shot wide on 72 as Nantwich came back at the hosts, but it would be Ilkeston who would net a crucial third three minutes later.

A ball floated over the top found Williams who looked like he might shoot but as Smith came out to close him down, Williams clipped the ball in to Ndlovu who headed home his second.

Nantwich were left mainly resorting to long range shots now as Ilkeston’s new look defensive unit got in the way of most that was thrown at them as well as producing several promising counter attacks, that being the case right to the end as the Robins comfortably held out for a long-awaited three points.

Ilkeston: 1 Ross Durrant, 2 Aiden Print, 3 Olly Luto (Eli Bako 56) , 4 Jordan Wheatley, 5 Matt Baker, 6 Liam Marshall (c), 7 Joe Doyle, 8 Joe Burgess, 9 Lee Ndlovu, 10 Jack McKay, 11 Mike Williams

Subs not used: Marcus Harness, Evandro Rachoni, Charles Weston, Dan Udoh

Nantwich: 1 Terry Smith, 2 Andy White, 3 Darren Thornton, 4 Ben Harrison, 5 Mat Bailey (Liam Shotton 78), 6 Matt Bell, 7 Steve Jones (Josh Gordon 62), 8 Sam Hall (Elliott Osbourne 49), 9 Josh Hancock, 10 Matty Kosylo, 11 Lewis Short

Subs not used: Jon Moran, Josh Gordon

Ref: Lucy Oliver

Att: 455

Star Robin: Mike Williams