“Grandad, stop shouting,” said the girl in the Santa hat as the ball rolled perilously close to the Ilkeston goal in the fourth minute. The grey-haired man was unable to heed the plea.
He bawled more advice at the Ilkeston defence when Matthew Chadwick crossed and Dale Johnson just missed the chance of an early Ashton goal.
But when Aaron Hooton twice came close to scoring, the youngster took up grandad’s shout of “Come on Aaron.” They were silenced when Johnson went through in the 19th minute, only to be shepherded wide by keeper Lloyd Allinson.
Then Chey Adams introduced himself to Ilkeston fans with a run from midfield, a jig around a defender and a shot which kissed the bar and flew over. It was evidence of a major talent and the 17-year-old built on that through this wintry afternoon.
On the half-hour Lejaun Simmons forced a save from United goalie Paul Phillips but the visitors soon responded. Allinson had to be in top form to keep out a shot by Kayde Coppin.
That prompted a little Anglo-Saxon speech with the stern response: “Grandad, naughty word.” He humbly apologised. But you could have forgiven a saint for swearing about what soon happened.
In the 40th minute, Hooton forced a corner with a shot on the turn. That was cleared but then Ashton deemed the only way to stop Adams was to foul him. The free-kick led to a corner, Gary Ricketts got his head to the ball but the effort was too high.
It looked hopeful but United had other ideas. In the 45th minute, Chadwick ran for goal and moved the ball onto his left foot before precisely steering it into the far corner.
Ilkeston manager Kevin Wilson said: “It was a speculative shot from 30 yards which crept in.” But he stuck to his half-time script of encouragement.
Ricketts and Hooton might have levelled but things nearly got worse when Johnson shot wide from five yards, possibly imagining an offside flag which was never waved.
In 65 minutes, Joe Maguire went down when trying to press home an attack. Referee Robert Atkin saw no evil but then accepted his linesman’s judgment and gave a penalty. Captain Laurie Wilson lifted it into the roof of the net as Phillips dived the wrong way.
The honest Ilkeston manager later said: “The penalty was very harsh but you get a bit of luck in football sometimes. If it had gone against you, I would have been very disappointed.”
But the gift was spurned with five minutes left. Ashton captain Jason Gorton, who had been blamed for the penalty, roared up for a corner and headed home. Some Ilkeston fans said it should have been a goal kick.
It left the Robins with one league point from five games and Ricketts, normally ready to discuss a match, saying: “I don’t have a word for it, disappointing, just disappointing.”
Saturday, November 30, 2013:
Ilkeston: 1 Lloyd Allinson 2 Akil Wright (Matt Baker 77) 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Chey Adams 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ellis Storey 7 Lejaun Simmons (Kane Richards 81) 8 Laurie Wilson (c) 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Aaron Hooton (Antwan Russell 61) 11 Jason Stokes. Subs not used: James Reid, Callum Chettle
Ashton: 1 Paul Phillips 2 Cavell Coo 3 Greg Pearson 4 Jason Gorton (c) 5 Jack Higgins 6 Ashley Young 7 Matt Chadwick (Lee Rick 77) 8 Gary Gee 9 Dale Johnson (Steve Halford 88) 10 Martin Pilkington (Joe O’Neill 70) 11 Kayde Coppin. Subs not used: Josh Steadman, Chris Baguley
Att: 523 Ref: R Atkin
Star Robin: Chey Adams
Report by Rod Malcolm
Pictures by Rob Stephenson (Twitter - @sportsphotorob)