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Match Report  |  Gresley Rovers vs Ilkeston Town

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16th March 2004

Gresley Rovers vs Ilkeston Town

This was the proverbial game of two halves – first half Gresley were not at the races and conceded two goals, second half much better, scored and had their visitors on the back foot for most of the half.

The game began with Ilkeston applying the pressure and as early as the second minute Mark Laws put an inviting cross into Gresley's area but the ball beat his teammates.

The pressure yielded a goal on 14 minutes but it came from a sloppy piece of defending. The Gresley backline was pushing high up the pitch when a through ball caught Andy Cheetham in no-mans land playing Chris Freestone well on side. The striker still had much to do but he hit a shot from the edge of the box with the ferocity of a vindaloo on a Friday night, beating home keeper Dale Belford and into the bottom corner of the net.

Seven minutes later the Robins doubled their lead and again it was at the expense of some poor defending. Ilkeston were awarded a free kick on the right and the ball fell to Laws who turned Jamie Hood before blasting in a shot again from the edge of the box.

The first real chance for Gresley came on 29 minutes but Jamie Barrett could only put his header straight into the arms of Robins' keeper Ross Turner.

On 35 minutes it could have been even worse for Gresley when Aaron O'Connor charged down Matt Smith's attempted clearance before dribbling into the box where Belford superbly blocked his shot.

A minute later Belford saved well again this time by holding a shot from Laws again from the edge of the box.

The second half began with Gresley looking far more determined and indeed they began to put Ilkeston under some sustained pressure for the first time in the game.

They were unlucky not to reduce the deficit on 53 minutes. Steve Lenagh hit a vicious strike that Turner did extremely well to fingertip over the bar.

Gresley were awarded a string of corners and it was from one of them that the home side scored. A Gary White corner on 54 minutes was headed back across goal by Barrett and Hood powered in a header near the post.

A succession of substitutions were made throughout the remainder of the game as Gresley tried to get the equaliser and Ilkeston hold on to their lead.

The only glimmer for Gresley came in injury time when they were awarded a free kick 25 yards out but it was wasted when White blasted his shot well over.

But, in the end it was Ilkeston who made it through to the final where they will play Matlock Town who had beaten Mickleover Sports 3-1.

Gary's view of the game

"I said to the lads that they would not get a better opportunity to get in to the final of a cup competition being at home against the side you beat a couple of weeks ago and are low on confidence themselves. But if we play football like that in the first half any side will come here and beat us.

"The defending was comical at times and we were second best all over the place and we made Ilkeston look like a good side purely because we weren’t at the races. The two goals they scored, granted they were quality finishing, we allowed them to have the opportunities for their build up and that disappointed me.

"The first goal we tried to play offside which we never do and Andy Cheetham got caught 20 yards in no-mans land playing Freestone on but he still had to finish it and to be fair to him he stuck it away. Then, shortly after that Jamie Hood tried to nick the ball away from Laws on the edge of the box. Ninety nine times out of a hundred Hoody would have stood up and defended properly but Laws rolled him and it was a top draw finish. But, again if we'd have stood him up he wouldn't have had the opportunity – we then had a mountain to climb.

"At half time I was very annoyed. We were second best all over the park and I sick of the fact that we have to keep digging ourselves out of holes we get ourselves in. But, to be fair to them, they responded in the second half and we had a lot of possession because of the way Ilkeston played. We got the goal, which was nice to get early in the second half and Ilkeston started to look nervous and a bit shaky at times. But, having said that, we didn't really create clear-cut chances. There were a lot of half chances but they defended very well and I'm disappointed that we could create any thing more clear-cut to test them really.

"We let the supporters down again; we've let ourselves down again and I'm at a loss really. We looked to have got over the little blip and were looking pretty stable at the back and we then give two sloppy goals away like that.

"There's no worse round to go out of a cup competition than the semi-final but, good luck to Ilkeston and hopefully they can go on and win it for the Dr Martens Western Division."

Gresley Rovers (0) 1

Ilkeston Town (2) 2

Scorers: Hood 54 (Gresley Rovers); Freestone 14, Laws 21 (Ilkeston Town)

Gresley Rovers: BelfordYellow Card, Everitt (FrancisYellow Card 39), Cheetham, Smith, HoodYellow Card (Haynes 67), Slater, Wardle, Doughty, Barrett (Tucker 62), Lenagh, White.

Ilkeston Town: Turner, KnowlesYellow Card, Atkinson, Swinscoe, Lever, Lyons (Stant 62), O'Connor, Johnson, Freestone, Laws, EshelbyYellow Card. Subs not used: Thompson, Stephens.

Star ManRovers Star Man: Jamie Hood – solid again at the back and scored.

Referee: S Smith (Matlock).

Attendance: 253