Andy Watson has expressed his satisfaction at Monday night’s comfortable League Cup victory over Daventry Town as his young Ilkeston FC side continue their attempts to keep the season alive.
With a mid-table finish looking most likely in the league, the Doodson Sport Cup remains a prize worth fighting for and a quarter-final at Kidsgrove Athletic on March 16 is now in the diary following Monday’s win.
And head coach Watson was in a positive frame of mind having seen Daventry disposed of so effectively in the 3-0 win.
He said: “I’m really pleased with how we played.
“The amount of opportunities we created by being energetic and getting into forward areas and winning second balls was good to see.
“The tempo with which we played in the first-half played a big part in getting us the possession and amount of space we got in the second.
“Our front three had lots of opportunities between them and and we should probably have scored more than we did but I can’t be too critical.
“Keenan Meakin had his first full game for us and Haydn Goddard was excellent too, as was Aiden Print, particularly in the second-half.
“So even though Daventry are in the division below us we still have to turn up and beat what is in front of us and I felt we did that well.”
Watson is now keen to see that kind of display replicated in the league as Ilkeston prepare for two away games - Halesowen Town on Saturday and then a long trip to high-flying Darlington on Tuesday night.
He added: “What we have to enforce in the players is that the principle is the same in the league but you perhaps have that bit more physicality and quality at set pieces to deal with than we might have had against Daventry.
“This is a big morale boost for us, particularly having lost the last couple of games which in turn came after a great win at home to Salford, so hopefully can build on it.
“If you take the majority of the last three league games - namely the win against Salford, the second-half against Stamford and then the away game against Salford - we haven’t played badly at all.
“So we have to take all of the positives. We know the negatives and have spoken about those and I wanted us to be a constant threat against Daventry which we were, so I was happy with that.
“The clean sheet was an added bonus too and Jamie Hannis deserved it as he made a couple of really good saves, which was pleasing as I gave him a bit of grief for the opening goal at Salford on Saturday but he responded well tonight.”
Watson hopes to have Danny Gordon available again at Halesowen with the midfielder having missed the Daventry game through injury.
Mike Williams, however, will serve a one-match ban at Darlington following his red card against Stamford last week.
Watson added: “We can take nothing for granted in this division and although Halesowen are similar to us in that they’re in a fairly secure position, it will be a tough game.
“We gave Darlington a good game here earlier in the season and should really have beaten them, but they’re going really well and we’ll relish the challenge of playing them on their own patch in front of a big crowd.
“There’s a great spirit amongst the players and that’s going to be really important to maintain until the end of the season as it’ll give us a good grounding for however we build in the summer.
“I’m having to juggle the players a little to use them properly and give them the right amount of minutes but we’re playing football with a good bit of style too which isn’t always the case in this division.
“With young players, it’s key to keep their morale up and not see their heads drop, and I’m confident we’re achieving that even when we lose games.”