All Square Robins
Report by David Robinson.
The two Robins fought out a goalless draw at the New Manor Ground which didn’t reflect the entertainment on offer in atrocious conditions. With Michael Oates starting up front for the first time Ashton almost made the perfect start as Kayde Coppin’s through pass saw Gary Gee just beaten to the ball by the onrushing Smith.
Oates himself could have got on to the scoresheet after 5 minutes as Dale Johnson’s interception set him up but he delayed his shot too long before Johnson set Ashley Young free down the right wing and his cross was volleyed back past the far post by Kevin Leadbetter as the visitors dominated the opening exchanges. Ilkeston fought back as a neat exchange from a corner saw Reid’s cross drift right across goal and Garry Gee then won the ball in midfield and played in Oates for a weak effort which failed to trouble Smith.
Williams then demonstrated some good control before seeing his dipping effort saved by Phillips and fellow striker Wright then broke 2 challenges but sent his effort wide of the far post after which Johnson, of all people, failed to control Gee’s pinpoint cross when well placed and just before the break Sam Wilson’s high return ball into the area saw Johnson’s header rebound off the cross bar.
The already strong wind was joined by sheeting rain after the resumption making conditions extremely tricky particularly for Ashton who were playing against the gale. After Jay Gorton had headed Leadbetter’s corner wide Paul Phillips was caught out near the touchline allowing Reid to tee up Williams whose shot was blocked for a corner which Shaw headed just wide. Leadbetter's cross from the left wing was then headed just wide of the near post by the stooping figure of Johnson before the opposing centre forward Wright provided a good turn on the edge of the area but fired straight at Phillips.
Shaw and Williams then exchanged passes for Ilkeston, the latter shooting wide of the near post and Chettle then used the wind to send a dipping 30 yard effort onto the roof of the net and Reid put a free kick from the edge of the penalty area narrowly past the far post. There was still almost time for a grandstand finish as Johnson was just denied from close range by Smith coming off his line, Gorton arriving just in time to head the rebound against the post and as the action switched to the other end Wright sent an ambitious 40 yard effort drifting wide of goal.
Team: Phillips, Wilson, Pearson, Gorton, Higgins, Young, Leadbetter (Rick), Gee, Johnson, Oates (Pilkington) & Coppin (Hill).
SNU: Haslam & Halford.