Ilkeston FC boss Kevin Wilson says there remains a huge air of positivity around the New Manor Ground as the Robins prepare to face Ashton United on Saturday.
A run of 17 games unbeaten in all competitions remains intact after last Saturday’s game at FC United of Manchester was postponed, although Wilson’s men are seeking their first win in four games after three successive draws.
And as he prepared for the visit of the similarly-nicknamed Robins of Ashton who are also in the play-off places, Wilson said he has full faith in his squad to continue the run.
“It’s a good place to be at the moment,” he said.
“We go into every game with a positive mindset and this weekend will be no different, especially as Ashton are in a similar position to us and it’s always important to beat the teams around you.
“Since we beat them 2-0 in October we’ve lost Che Adams, Kane Richards, Kieran Wallace and Ashley Hunter from our team and yet we’re still fighting at the top, so that’s something to be proud of.”
Wilson was also bursting with pride as he discussed the impact former star Adams made for Sheffield United last week as he scored twice against Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup semi-final.
Wilson and his team of coaches at the New Manor Ground tutored Adams through the club’s academy for two years before his transfer to Bramall Lane in November, and Wilson said he was thrilled to see the teenager burst onto the scene in such a dramatic way.
He said: “I don’t think you’d have found a prouder man than me last Wednesday night. We took him on at 16 and brought him through and knew full well he could go on to do greater things, and still do.
“It’s great for the players here too as they all want him to do well and it’s something to aspire to. They all had a big input in his success, whether on the pitch or if living with him in the digs over the last couple of years
“I remember signing Steve Howard when I was manager at Northampton and seeing him improve and eventually get million pound moves to Derby and Leicester, and the feeling is similar to then. It’s fantastic for Che and we’re all thrilled, especially as it’s made people nationally aware of us again and they can see we’re looking to keep producing talent like him.”
Meanwhile, the Robins squad has been boosted with the arrival of two midfielders from Nottingham Forest.
Cameroonian Edouard Schoenecker and Ivorian Wilfried Gnahore, both 18, are on loan at the New Manor Ground for the rest of the season, with Wilson commenting: “Steve Chettle knows them from Forest and they’ll be good additions. I expect they’ll be in and around the first team from the off.
“You don’t know when injuries and suspensions might kick in so it’s really important to have a plan in place and that our squad depth remains strong.”
Next Tuesday night will see Ilkeston head to Gresley FC in the semi-final of the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
Wilson added: “We’ve won it the last two years and, like with the Doodson Cup, now we’re at this stage really want to go all the way, so we’ll go to Gresley with every intention of making the final.”
To read a full interview with Che Adams on his time at Sheffield United and his exploits against Tottenham, see pages 50 and 51.