Head coach Andy Watson felt youthful naivety was partly to blame as Ilkeston FC fell to their first league defeat under his tutelage on Saturday.
The 3-2 loss at Workington saw the hosts score their winner deep into stoppage time having twice been behind to goals from Lee Ndlovu and Joe Doyle.
But whilst Watson acknowledged Workington were the better side for most of the encounter, he was disappointed that his players didn’t see out what would have been a well-earned point late in the game.
He said: “A draw in a game like that would certainly have gone into the ‘point gained’ category but we didn’t close the gate properly in stoppage time.
“Rather than see out the draw, our youthfulness showed a little in that the lads were perhaps too keen to go for a winner and all three points against a side who had been a threat all game and were always likely to punish us if we were out of shape. That’s what happened and we were left vulnerable to the counter attack.
“There were still plenty of positives to take from the game. We took the lead against the run of play and then bounced back well from their first equaliser to regain the lead, but in the end we’ve learned the hard way which is sometimes what has to happen to young players to educate them.”
Despite having seen Ilkeston win just once in the last four games, Watson was keen to keep a sense of perspective as they prepare to host bottom-of-the-table Ramsbottom United at the New Manor Ground on Saturday.
He said: “In the first game against Stocksbridge we’ve played on a very difficult pitch what with the rain and also conceded a goal that was clearly offside and which perhaps denied us a win. The replay was then played in more or less a hurricane and that made it very difficult.
“Then we’ve come very close to getting a result at Workington before being beaten late on.
“So we haven’t done a great deal wrong and I’m confident we can return to winning ways and generate some positive momentum once again in the upcoming games.”
The Doodson Sport League Cup tie at home to Lincoln United on Monday night was postponed with the New Manor Ground pitch waterlogged. The match has been rescheduled to take placeon Monday, December 14.
Following the visit of Ramsbottom, Monday night will see Ilkeston’s first appearance in the Derbyshire Senior Cup this season when near neighbours Long Eaton United head to the New Manor Ground.
United are currently in ninth place in the Midland Football League, two levels below the Robins.
And, as was likely to be the case in the Lincoln United game, Watson expects to rotate his squad a little to give some fringe players valuable minutes.
He said: “It’s a bit of a balancing act because I’ve got players returning from injury and also some who haven’t had as much game time. I’ll be keen to put them in the side but we also want to win the game so I’ll have to make sure the team is strong enough to do that.”
Meanwhile, striker Lewis Walker has returned to Ilkeston after a week-long trial with Premier League giants Chelsea.
The 17-year-old has impressed in the Robins’ academy side this season and has also featured in the first team, and Watson says the teenager, who is the son of former England defender Des, benefited greatly from the experience.
He said: “By all accounts everyone at Chelsea was very happy with how Lewis did and also with how he conducted himself and went about things.
“Chelsea were terrific with him and his dad and I gather they’re keen to have a look at him in a proper match situation at some point which is still to be arranged for the future.”
On the personnel front, loanee Marcus Harness was recalled by parent club Burton Albion last week and immediately loaned out to National League North side Aldershot Town.
Watson added: “We were delighted to have had Marcus here and his loan deal wasn’t far from ending. Burton did everything in the correct manner and our strong relationship with them remains.”