Match Data 2001/2002
Ilkeston Town 2
Havant & Waterlooville 0
Southern League Premier Division - Mon Apr 08, 2002
It has to be said that Ilkeston are something of an Achilles Heel for the Hawks. The teams have met now six times, the first four encounters leaving the Robins victorious by single goals, and the last, at Westleigh Park in February, saw two penalties from Super Jim turn a 2-0 defeat into a 2-2 draw. Despite that, the happy handful of Hawks fans making the bleakest of the season’s trips exited their people mover half an hour prior to kick off and took up residence in the cosy atmosphere of the Ilkeston clubhouse. The disappointment of finding that the match programme was a ‘double header’ issue that sported ‘Ilkeston Town vs Newport County’ on the cover with the Hawks info consigned to the latter pages of the thin publication, was offset by the general opinion that as with last season Ilkeston’s pie shop provides the best fan fodder in the league.
With the sinking sun threatening to allow the game to start without the need for floodlights, water poured off the thickly turfed pitch leaving something of a moat between the fans and the home goal as the match got underway. Draining incredibly well, concerns of a mudbath before the game evaporated as the pools of standing water in the goalmouth at the lower end of the ground vanished to leave a rich playing surface pocked by dark and fertile looking soil.
Dave Leworthy made a rare starting appearance for the Hawks. With both Paul Wood and Jamie O’Rourke ruled out by injury, the Non League Legend stood at the front with James Taylor. Ben Price again filled in at the back for Liam Daish. It was Gareth Hall and Neil Champion though who took the bull by the horns to get the visitors underway in a slow starting game. Showing well from the midfield, both players effected good runs to bring the ball forward and Chris Ferrett again accompanied them for some curling crosses. Neil Davis found occasional space for himself as he advanced up the middle, and in the fifteenth minute sent a warning shot across Stuart Ford’s goal as the Hawks looked to be building pressure.
Ilkeston however replied with a breaking run that saw Nick Kennerdale force a good diving block from Paul Nicholls. With David Holmes chasing in on the left it looked for a split second as though the home side would go ahead, but as with many of the Robins’ chances, his shot flew high over the bar.
The Hawks found themselves with a brace of corners in the 20th minute after Gary Connolly had battled the ball forward to the line. Ferrett’s first drifted long to Leworthy at the back of the box, but turning the ball toward the near post he put it narrowly wide. The second skimmed off both Leworthy and Taylor as it flew across the goal, but again came to nothing. Similarly at the other end five minutes later, Chris Timons headed James Whitehead’s corner ball over.
As the half progressed the game entered its most pacey period, both teams looking for an opening to start the scoring. Gareth Hall forced a dive from Ford with low drive, and Shaun Gale tackled Holmes for a vital clearance in the Hawks’ box. Clever footwork on the right saw Neil Davis backheel the ball into space for Leworthy to strike again, over, and again running freely on Ilkeston’s right, Whitehead and Kennerdale worked their way to provide Glen Kirkwood in the six yard box. Gareth Hall however prevented Kirkwood’s shot with a well timed tackle.
As half time approached both sides equally looked as though they were edging closer to a goal. Connolly fed Hall for a pass through to Taylor, Leworthy a yard behind Super Jim’s shot at the far post as it flashed across the face of the net and out. Ilkeston’s chances grew, but as before, inaccurate shooting denied them many opportunities to test Nicholls.
Gary Middleton put out a cross from Connolly to give the Hawks another corner, but Neil Davis couldn’t force the resulting ball through a sea of defending legs to get a shot off. It looked as though the stalemate would remain until the second half, but as the clock entered the second minute of injury time Kennerdale found himself with his second chance in as many minutes. Nicholls had saved his first shot well, but as the eager striker charged forward again Chris Ferrett lost the ball to him on the edge of the area. Taking it wide, he shot across Nicholls to land the ball in the net just inside the far post. It was a depressing end to an equally contested half. The referee blew moments later and the assembled throng consoled themselves with further visits to the tea bar before taking up residence at the higher end of the ground.
The second half didn’t improve matters. Ilkeston’s back three proved themselves adept at cutting out virtually every cross Ferrett, Champion, Hall and Price put in. Taylor found himself frequently crowded out and Dave Leworthy found few chances to display his credentials as last season’s top scorer. Ilkeston restarted forcefully, and catching the Hawks on the back foot were unlucky not to go two up just three minutes into the half when defending bodies launching themselves into the paths of several shots kept the ball out in sandbag pile style.
An accurate clearance in the 56th minute sent Kennerdale away again, racing diagonally for the corner flag before he cut inside well and was stopped only at the edge of the six yard box by Ferrett. As Champion and Hall continued to send in crosses, Timons and Lennie Curtis continually headed them away from Taylor, leading to a frustrating period for the side as it started to look as if nothing would break the solid home defence. Champion did manage it, racing through a gap to touch the ball just beyond his own reach coming up on goal, but Leworthy released a shot in the resulting melee that defected away off Middleton’s hand. Despite cries from the stands and the bench, the Referee refused the ex-pro a penalty.
Finding a rare moment of space, Connolly won a corner that started the uncanny sequence of events that finished the game. Leworthy rifled Ferrett’s long ball goalward to see it glance back out to Taylor at the near post. Shooting, Taylor raised his arms as the ball looked to have crossed the line before Ford scooped it out with a single hand, and then connecting again Super Jim turned to look at the linesman in amazement as the same thing happened again. I must say, being six feet behind the incident it did look very much as if the ball had crossed the line, at exactly the same spot Tim Hambley’s goal line strike curved back out last season. It wouldn’t surprise me to see this particular secret weapon in Ilkeston’s arsenal feature shortly in an episode of the X-Files.
Regardless, the incident spurred Ilkeston on again, and racing to the other end they pressured Nicholls into a miskicked clearance from the side of his goal that looped down squarely onto the penalty spot for Kirkwood to bag his easiest glory of the season with a shot into an open net. The disappointment demolished the Hawks’ resolve, and the game petered out with Ilkeston recording only their third league win since last November. Having done what they needed to however, the home side had proved themselves easily the better side on the night.
More for posterity than anything
A few low light pics of the game
If the KO had been 7.30 we might have just had some gooduns
Click thumbnails for larger pictures