Martin Carruthers relieved as Ilkeston Town hold out for a draw

Martin Carruthers says he was ultimately happy to see his Ilkeston Town side take a point from their home game with Stamford on Saturday having been second best for much of the encounter.

By Mark Duffy
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 11:20 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 11:20 am
Ross Durrant celebrates saving a first-half Stamford penalty on Saturday. Photo by Craig Lamont.

The 0-0 draw ensured the Robins will be top of the NPL Midlands table at Christmas.

But it took a man-of-the-match display from goalkeeper Ross Durrant to help earn the point and Carruthers felt there was plenty to learn from the game.

He said: "It’s not often you’d hear me say I’m happy with a point, especially at home and in front of a packed crowd, but credit to Stamford as they’re by far the best team we’ve played this season and at times it was men against boys.

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"At half-time I was delighted to go in at 0-0 because obviously Ross has made a great save from the penalty as well as three or four other good saves and they’ve run as ragged. They had more desire, art, tempo and movement and we couldn’t live with them.

"I was hoping for a reaction in the second-half and we were a bit better but by no means our normal selves and you have to give credit to the opposition who did their homework and didn’t allow us to play.

"Even though we might have nicked it at the end with a stonewall penalty that’s not been given again, we’d have taken that at half-time as we were well below par and they were by far the better side on the day."

Ilkeston now wait until Monday for their next game with a trip to Shepshed Dynamo, before a mouth-watering local derby at home to Belper Town on New Year’s Day which will see two of the current top three go head-to-head.

Carruthers said: “The players will train twice this week and then get four days off but we’ve already had one or two missing due to Christmas dos and that may be the case still, so unless they take some responsibility and do some stuff on their own then we won’t get results because you could see against Stamford we looked leggy and out of joint and if you don’t train well, you don’t play well.

"It’s about them being professional and doing their bit. Christmas is massive in terms of the promotion and title race as if you can maximise your points over this period you do yourselves a lot of favours.”

Nearly 1,700 fans attended Saturday’s game, around three times the usual average at the New Manor Ground, with free entry for the second time this season and numerous activities drawing the big crowd.

Carruthers added: “The fans have been fantastic and it’s just a shame that on the two games where we’ve had the big crowds we haven’t performed. It’s something we need to address because the club’s moving forward and we want crowds like that week in, week out but we have to play better and make sure the fans come back for more.”

For a gallery from Saturday’s draw with Stamford, click HERE.