The cup competitions haven’t really been all that kind to Ilkeston FC this season and that trend continued on a chilly Tuesday night at Christchurch Meadow.
Belper Town, already the Robins’ conquerors in the FA Cup back in September, this time progressed in the Doodson Sport Cup too, albeit against a much-changed Ilkeston team with youth very much on its side.
The difference proved to be striker Kieran Wells, until recently an Eastwood Town player who took his three best chances well to complete a hat-trick.
Ilkeston played decent football throughout but couldn’t create much in the final third, a problem that is becoming more and more of a concern as the season goes on no matter which set of players are on show.
On this occasion they went with Ryan Wilson and Antwan Russell up front; Wilson experimentally given he’d played in the position in his younger years and Russell to try and squeeze some kind of evidence that he’s worth another shot as a regular starter.
Neither did their chances of another appearance in the front line many favours.
Employing the 5-3-2 formation favoured by the academy side Ilkeston had oodles of possession and played the ball around well but the lack of cutting edge proved costly.
Indeed, Belper created the better and more clear cut openings throughout and took just eight minutes to open the scoring as Wells’ header from a right wing cross was guided well wide of keeper Lloyd Allinson and into the corner of the net from ten yards out.
The Robins were resorting to shots from distance, Danny Gordon’s effort at keeper Dave Ratcliffe never really looking like it would hit the net while at the other end ex-Robins Simon Harrison and Chris Jones both went close to doubling the lead.
That honour eventually went to Wells on 38 minutes, the stocky but dangerous striker getting the faintest of touches to a Harrison cross that took the ball past Allinson and into the corner of the net.
Russell found Ratcliffe with a low shot from distance just before half-time but apart from a few runs into the box and a couple of instances where he lacked the confidence to shoot when a goal looked on, he disappointed throughout.
The second-half was much the same as the first, Ilkeston dictating possession but failing to seriously test Ratcliffe in goal.
Russell and Wilson both went close to pulling a goal back in a decent spell early in the half, Aaron Hooton arriving as a sub later on but his only effort of note being a cross-come-shot that lacked conviction and evaded all interested inside the six yard box.
Belper had seen Shaun Tuton and Wells both nearly add to the tally but it would be Wells who would round off the win and his hat-trick four minutes from time.
A free-kick into the penalty area wasn’t cleared and when the ball fell to Wells in space 12 yards out he was able to hammer in his third and secure the Robins’ fate.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013:
Belper: 1 Dave Ratcliffe 2 Chris Jones (Liam Davis 81) 3 Chris Adam 4 Gareth Davies 5 Luke Beatson 6 Richard Adams (c) 7 Simon Harrison (Steve Warne 77) 8 Colin Marrison 9 Kieran Wells 10 Shaun Tuton 11 Sam Duncum. Subs not used: Jon Froggatt, Mark Ward, Mick Godber
Ilkeston: 1 Lloyd Allinson 2 Mike Williams 3 Ellis Storey 4 Danny Gordon (Aaron Hooton 68) 5 Matt Baker 6 Joe Maguire (c) 7 Callum Chettle (Karum Shankar 81) 8 Che Adams 9 Antwan Russell (Lejaun Simmons 71) 10 Ryan Wilson 11 Akil Wright. Subs not used: Spencer Edwards, Luke Shaw
Att: 150 Ref: Dave Plowright
Star Robin: Callum Chettle
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (Twitter - @sportsphotorob)