Ilkeston Town prepare for huge top-of-the-table encounter as striker Montel Gibson returns

League leaders Ilkeston Town are expecting more than 2,000 people to pack the New Manor Ground once more this weekend as they take on second-placed Halesowen Town.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 11:52 am
Martin Carruthers says Saturday's game with Halesowen is 'huge'.
Martin Carruthers says Saturday's game with Halesowen is 'huge'.

The sides are separated only by the Robins’ superior goal difference and it is thought the Yeltz will bring as many as 4-500 fans to Derbyshire to cheer their team on for what could be a crucial fixture in terms of where the title honours may go at the end of the season.

And, with the hosts having won four in a row and Halesowen being on a run of six straight wins, Ilkeston boss Martin Carruthers, while not seeing the game as a title decider, knows how important three points could be.

He said: “We’ve already said to the players that this isn’t a make or break game to decide the title, but clearly it’s a huge game for both sides.

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"We’ve played each other twice already this season and have one win each, and both of us go into the game in great form so something is going to have to give.

"I honestly think that no matter what happens on Saturday, the title race is going to go down to the wire – right to the last day – and I think we, along with teams like Halesowen, Chasetown, Stamford, Belper and maybe others, will be in the mix at the end.

"If we win, the important thing then is not to get complacent and think any kind of job is done. There is a lot of football to be played.

"We’re the clubs with the two biggest fanbases in the league so it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

Meanwhile, Carruthers believes the return to the club of striker Montel Gibson sends out a real statement of intent to the rest of the league.

Gibson signed on Monday having been released by Stourbridge, where he was a regular scorer, having also featured successfully for Saturday’s opponents Halesowen since previously playing for Ilkeston.

Carruthers said: “We only ever want players who we think are going to improve what is already a great and talented squad, and while we haven’t found scoring a problem, this gives us even more options up front that we’ve needed since Paddy Webb left.

"Credit also goes to the owners for backing us once again.”