A few minutes mayhem and it’s all over.

Unusually I will start with chips.

I decided to revisit all previous winners of the chip league this season so noticing that Ilkeston were at home I was off to see a previous winner. Firstly the chips, unfortunately I must have been given that last portion, before new ones are fried, that we have all experienced and found them to be hot, golden, crispy on the outside but lacking any depth and made up of lots of little pieces along with a few bigger ones. The chips were also greasy and so a poor score of 58 won’t see them being winners again. Pity really because Ilkeston have three food/drinks kiosks which offer a good range and a very comfortable and large club house.

Parking at Ilkeston is good with their own carpark and plenty of spaces on the nearby roads. As I have said before there is always a good buzz as you enter a stadium at night with the lights penetrating the gloom to light up the arena. When entering this ground you are met with the unusual stand in the far corner and the roman numeral clock, to the locals it must be like coming home.

Immediately I was struck by two changes, a perfectly flat all weather pitch has been installed and the programme has gone on line but otherwise nothing else had changed in this very tidy and clean ground. There were some high dark clouds in the sky and with the start of Autumn in the air some gloves and a warmer coat wouldn’t have gone a miss. The lowest home attendance of the season of 522 may have reflected Ilkeston’s average start to the campaign or may be heralds a reduction in fans as the economic crisis deepens.

lkeston Town F.C. have only been in existence since 2017 taking up the local mantle from Ilkeston F.C. who had only been reformed in 2010. The current team having been elected to the Midland Football League won back to back promotions before results were expunged due to covid. The Non League reorganisation found them in the Northern Premier League – Division One Midlands Division which they won last season gaining the team automatic promotion but were reallocated for the 2022/23 to the Southern Football League Premier Division Central.

Stratford Town (from Stratford on Avon) were formed in 1941 taking on their current name in 1949. They played in local Birmingham and Midlands Leagues until reaching the Southern League in 2015 where they have consolidated their place.

Ilkeston Town 2 Stratford Town 1

Tuesday 27th September 2022 Southern League Premier Division Central

The New Manor Ground Ilkeston The Robins v The Bards

Ilkeston, Red and white vertical striped shirts white shorts: Stratford, Blue shirts with one withe vertical stripe down one side and matching blue shorts.

Ollie Battersby was making his debut for Ilkeston in goal, I had been impressed by him at Belper last season and believe that he will go further in his career.

The first half could be summed up as plenty of endeavour but no sparkle As it came to an end Stratford’s No16, who was on as a substitute, on the right wing who had injected some ingenuity into the Stratford attack was hit by a home player when controlling the ball in the air. The coming together was on the side line and Jack Storer was forced off the pitch down a small gully into the fencing. The medical teams from both clubs attended to him and the referee blew for half time leaving them to deal with the injury. Jack was eventually stretchered off with a neck injury and was later transferred to hospital,

The second half started brighter and it needed to as the evening got colder.

A fast break away by Stratford on 63 minutes led to a sweeping pass from the right that was met by Adam Rooney for the away team to take the lead. It needed the goal to wake Ilkeston and the piled on the pressure to get the equaliser four minutes later when a cross along the ground was turned into his own net by Jack Turner as he tried to clear the ball away from the nearby Ilkeston player.

Further chaos reined four minutes later when Jack Turner made a horrible back pass to Stratfords goalkeeper, Leon Phillips and his hurried clearance with little space hit Stratford’s Arlott-John and ballooned over his head and despite a despairing run back it was in the net and Ilkeston had turned it around. So within 8 minutes the game has burst to life and was all over. Leon Phillips did redeem himself near the end with an amazing reflex save to his right to thwart the marauding Ilkeston forward.

Ilkeston will have been pleased with their second half performance but Stratford will have been well miffed with their luck on the night after some crazy mix ups.

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