REPORT: Ilkeston Town 4-1 Carlton Town - Robins recover to continue title charge

Ilkeston’s pursuit of the NPL Midlands title moved forward another step on Saturday but, once again, it wasn’t without its scares along the way.

Saturday, 26th February 2022, 8:08 pm
Zak Goodson takes on Carlton defender Lawrence Gorman. Photo by Craig Lamont.
Zak Goodson takes on Carlton defender Lawrence Gorman. Photo by Craig Lamont.

Forced into making several changes due to injury and suspension, boss Martin Carruthers had quite the conundrum to solve when picking his side for this encounter with key players missing and three debutants being brought into the squad.

And the unsettled nature of the opening ten minutes perhaps emphasised the makeshift nature of the line-up, with the Robins going a goal down and struggling to make any impression on the game.

But once stand-in skipper Aman Verma nodded them level the tide turned and from that point on there was little doubt as to which side would take the points.

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Ilkeston celebrate Alex Troke's second-half goal. Photo by Craig Lamont.

Charlie Wakefield in particular caused problems all afternoon with a dynamic display that warranted two assists, while a back line that had never before played together as a unit eventually settled to repel much of what was thrown their way.

They could even afford to drop a gear or two once the fourth goal had gone in early in the second-half, and whilst results elsewhere means it’s ‘as you were’ with regard to the top three in the table, Ilkeston still head that trio with nine games to go.

Aaron Opoku sliced a half chance wide for Carlton in the opening minute after Nat Watson’s pull back, but the visitors wouldn’t take long to get in front.

Debutant Morgan Thomas-Sadler was booked for a foul on Opoku out wide and from the resultant free-kick, Watson slid the ball into Aaron O’Connor whose shot from an angle somehow squeezed in between post and goalkeeper Ross Durrant – the ball just over the line before being cleared by a defender.

Ilkeston responded with Zak Goodson’s mis-hit shot headed off the line by Martin Ball, but they would then level the scores moments later.

Jared Bird swung in a corner from the left and Verma dived in to head down into the ground and up into the roof of the net on 11 minutes.

Remaye Campbell put an effort over the top from close range two minutes later although it wasn’t an easy chance – that not being the case soon afterwards when he blazed too high with just the keeper to beat having turned his man a few yards out.

The Robins were now in control and took the lead on 22 minutes, when a great bit of footwork from Wakefield took two defenders out of the game on the edge of the box and when he fed Goodson, the Robins’ top scorer had time to pick his spot and drill home a fine finish.

The lead was then extended further ten minutes later, as more good work from Wakefield saw him drill a ball in from the left and defender Daniel Brown could only divert the ball into his own net.

Wakefield saw a chance saved just before the break as keeper Mark Rathbone denied him from an angle, then Charlie Jemson headed wide when unmarked at the resultant corner, half-time arriving with the hosts comfortably in front.

Ilkeston would get their fourth just nine minutes into the second-half. Bird was fouled 25 yards out and Alex Troke stepped up to curl the ball into the corner of the net at Rathbone’s near post.

Chances weren’t all that frequent thereafter as the game mellowed a little such was Ilkeston’s dominance in possession, although Campbell fired over once more in a good position with ten minutes to go.

Sub Jack Griffiths shot wide after arriving off the bench for his debut five minutes from time, but the damage had been firmly done by the hosts as they eased to another three points.

Ilkeston: Durrant, Thomas-Sadler (Williams 26), Brown-Hill, Verma ©, Irvine, Jemson, Goodson, Bird (Griffiths 85), Campbell, Troke (Reid 71), Wakefield

Not used: Bennett.

Carlton: Rathbone, Gorman, Fletcher, Ball, Brown (Moore 46), Maddison ©, Watson, Sargent (Howes 57), Opoku, O’Connor (Towle 66), Davie

Not used: Holmes, Johal

Att: 1,012