The old football adage suggests ‘you can only beat what is put in front of you’, and that certainly applies to this Robins display on Monday night.
Seemingly-doomed Stocksbridge proved to be a far different proposition to Saturday’s victors FC United, indeed the roles were very much reversed as this time it was Ilkeston’s opponents who scored from their only shot on target and otherwise didn’t see much of the ball.
Steels played for an hour with just ten men following a red card for goalkeeper Jack Ward which led to the second of two first-half penalties, but regardless of the visitors’ lack of quality and numerical disadvantage, Ilkeston still had a job to do and did it in style.
After Jake Eyre had fired wide for Stocksbridge early on it was the Robins who took control.
Joe Maguire’s header from a James Reid corner struck a post ten minutes in, before the opening goal came from the spot on 15 minutes when a tackling Tom Cadzow handled low down as Laurie Wilson broke into the penalty area, Wilson himself slotting home the penalty.
Brett Bowden-Lovell volleyed just too high from a Steels corner nine minutes later, but on the half-hour mark keeper Ward brought down Gary Ricketts as he capitalised on a defensive error and was, perhaps harshly given the ball had quickly gone out of play, red carded.
Former Ilkeston Town goalkeeper Ben Scott took over between the sticks but couldn’t stop Wilson netting from the spot once again.
Reid saw a 30-yard strike pushed wide by Scott but the Robins winger would then create the third goal in first-half stoppage time as his deep corner to the back post was met by defender Ellis Storey who nodded home his first ever Ilkeston goal.
The second-half saw Ilkeston’s domination continue.
Kane Richards cut inside on 56 minutes only to see his shot well saved by Scott, while Wilson and Akil Wright also went close to a fourth but saw efforts saved and go wide respectively.
Steels then pulled a goal back out of nowhere as Ben Turner’s free-kick from deep was met by Nathan Joynes on the volley and his looping effort left Ross Etheridge with little chance.
But it was 4-1 within 60 seconds with not only the goal of the game but arguably one of the best seen at the NMG this season, as Matt Richards smashed a stunning left-footed shot from 30 yards out which flew into the corner of the net via Scott’s hand.
The rest of the game was attack versus defence although clear cut chances didn’t really come until the latter stages.
One attack saw several Robins players pass up the chance to shoot before eventually Kane Richards did so only to see his strike end up in the car park.
Goal five finally arrived on 86 minutes and it was another first for the club, this time young sub Mike Williams netting on the rebound after Ricketts’ header was well pushed away by Scott.
Kane Richards completed the rout three minutes later, firing in a low left foot shot which found the corner of the net and put the seal on a more than comfortable victory.
Monday, February 24, 2014:
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Akil Wright (Luke Shaw 80) 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Laurie Wilson (c) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ellis Storey 7 James Reid (Mike Williams 83) 8 Callum Chettle (Chey Adams 82) 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Kane Richards 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: Matt Baker, Rai Simons
Stocksbridge: 1 Jack Ward 2 Tom Cadzow 3 Ben Turner 4 Brett Lucas 5 Brett Bowden-Lovell 6 Matt Telling 7 Liam Royles (Connor Dimaio 59) 8 Janni Lipka (Ben Scott 30) 9 Jake Eyre 10 Nathan Joynes (Danny South 74) 11 Alex Callery (c). Sub not used: Andrew Ring
Att: 315 Ref: Neil Pratt
Star Robin: Matt Richards
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamont (@MrBarfly)