Strachan encouraged by Robins’ pre-season displays

Ilkeston midfielder Mike Williams (right) chases Sheffield United winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce during the pre-season friendly on Saturday. Report on page 47.
Ilkeston midfielder Mike Williams (right) chases Sheffield United winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce during the pre-season friendly on Saturday. Report on page 47.

Head coach Gavin Strachan says he has been impressed by what he’s seen so far from Ilkeston FC during pre-season - but believes his players have plenty more to offer.

Narrow defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United over the last week followed a comfortable win over a young Peterborough side on July 11, with already signed up players competing alongside a large number of trialists as Strachan looks to add depth to the squad.

And with plenty more friendlies still to come before the new season begins on August 15, he wants to see the standard of performances continue to rise.

He said: “The work rate and application has been outstanding, I can’t fault that at all.

“I’ve perhaps surprised the players a bit though by asking for more, even in the games against high quality opposition. We need to be a bit better in possession and will have the chance to work on that in the upcoming games.”

The Robins are due to head to Rossington Main tonight (Thursday) before then hosting Bedworth United on Saturday in a match which will see all supporters admitted for free.

League One side Chesterfield will then arrive on Tuesday night in a match arranged as part of the deal which took Bermudan striker Rai Simons to the club at the end of last season.

Strachan added: “The games with Rossington and Bedworth will give us more opportunity to work on the attacking side of our game and our training will reflect that this week. We have to learn how to break teams down and get crosses into the box.”

“Against the Sheffield sides we were well tested in terms of defensive shape and off the ball work but as time goes on we’ll need to concentrate on all other areas too and have some good tests lined up.”

Meanwhile, the Evo-Stik Premier League fixtures were announced last week with the Robins set to host Skelmersdale United on the opening day, August 15.

That will be followed by a trip to old rivals Grantham Town on August 18 and then a long trip to North Wales to face Colwyn Bay, who were relegated from the National League North last season.

Matlock Town will be the hosts on August Bank Holiday Monday, while Boxing Day will see Ilkeston travel to newly-promoted Mickleover Sports, the return fixture taking place on Easter Monday.

The regular season will end with an away game at Ramsbottom United on April 23.

A full list of the season’s fixtures can be found on page 47.

The only other confirmed fixtures are a trip to Cambridge City, who currently groundshare with St Ives Town, in the FA Trophy on October 31, and an Integro League Cup clash away to either Belper Town or Rugby Town to take place on November 10.