14.4.2007

UniBond Northern Premier League

Ilkeston Town

Carruthers (34), Muller (37)

Hednesford Town

(2) 2

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

410

Phil Hadland

L L W D L D D L D L

Guiseley (H) 16.4.07

The Pitmen's lingering play-off hopes appear to have been extinguished this afternoon as mid-table hosts Ilkeston Town strike twice in the first half to defeat the Pitmen and condemn the hapless visitors to a seventh winless game in a row, leaving them slumped down in eighth place in the UniBond Premier League table in the process

Manager Phil Starbuck was still looking to solve the conundrum of how the talented attacking options at his disposal have suddenly hit such a barren patch of form in front of goal, with only five goals in their past ten games. Mario Pedro was restored to the starting XI in place of Jon Douglas in the only change to the side that had drawn a blank at Prescot Cables on Monday night

Starbuck's opposite number Nigel Jemson - his former colleague at Nottingham Forest back in the late 1980s - had seen his side move into the top ten on Monday courtesy of a 1-0 win over Derbyshire rivals Matlock Town at Causeway Lane. He made five changes to his side for today's return to the New Manor Ground as Alistair Asher, Ryan Hindley, Martin Carruthers, Justin Walker and Dougie Wade came in ahead of Austin McIntosh, Jonathan Loukes, Ben Jones, Chris Adam and former Hednesford man Leon McSweeney respectively

On a beautiful spring afternoon and the New Manor Ground pitch looking resplendent, the Pitmen made an assertive start to proceedings through Ross Adams, who attempted a chip over young Ilkeston goalkeeper Jamie Annerson in the fourth minute of the game but saw his effort from nearly thirty yards out drift just over the crossbar

The hosts responded with a neat passing move involving Walker and Hindley through the Hednesford midfield to find veteran former Hull City striker Carruthers in the eighth minute. He took a touch and feinted one way before getting past Adams the other, but drilled his shot just wide of Ryan Young's left-hand post

Good play down the Ilkeston right in the thirteenth minute saw Asher and Wade link up well before former Hucknall man Asher sent over a dangerous cross that Young flapped at momentarily before bringing the ball under his control at the second attempt as it bounced in front of the incoming Adam Muller

Two minutes later, Lee Soar made a fantastic block tackle to deny Carruthers a goal as the striker got away from the defender momentarily as he was played into the penalty area by Walker once more

 

Sixty seconds later, a cross from Pedro caused chaos in the Ilkeston penalty area as both Ross Dyer and Darren Alexander both tried to force the ball home, only for Asher to eventually clear the danger

Carruthers really should have opened the scoring for the hosts on nineteen minutes as he met a cross from Wade with a powerful header, but somehow glanced his effort over the crossbar when he really should have scored

 

Three minutes later, Gary Sucharewycz's long-standing injury curse struck yet again as the Nottinghamshire based player limped off with another  reoccurrence of his groin injury after stretching to reach a through ball. He was replaced by Danny Bacon in a move that saw Iain Screaton dropping back into defence to cover for the departed centre-back

A long throw from Screaton on twenty-five minutes was flicked on by Dyer, whose downwards header was shanked high over the crossbar by a wild first-time effort from Alexander

Former Hucknall Town man Bacon could have scored against their local rivals with his first effort at goal since coming on three minutes later but his instinctive shot from twenty yards out was saved smartly by Annerson

It had been an enjoyable game in the bright sunshine up to this point for the spectators, with both sides looking to push forwards at every opportunity. Alexander did well to break down the left on twenty-nine minutes from Chris White's pass but pulled a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal and away from danger

White was involved in his own penalty area a minute later as he headed the ball off his own goal line to deny the dangerous Carruthers another great chance at goal

 

Three minutes later, the home side got their noses in front with the opening goal of the afternoon; a deep cross from the right from wade after he had beaten Soar and Pedro was headed home firmly by Carruthers, who had been left unmarked by a hesitant Hednesford defence eight yards from goal

It got worse for the away side three minutes later as a slip from Soar at the crucial moment allowed Muller to pick up the ball and take it around the sprawling dive of Young and tap the ball home from close range to make it a quickfire double from the hosts

Marshall went close to reducing the deficit on forty-one minutes as he met an Adams corner kick with a full-blooded header at the near post but saw his goalbound header cleared off the line by Asher. The rebound found its way to Hadland, whose rebounded effort was well saved by Annerson

The first half had been very typical of the Pitmen's luck in the past three months - plenty of possession, plenty of good chances, nothing to show for their efforts

Soar had struggled to handle the movement of the lively Muller in the first half, with the Ilson forward turned him inside out again in the early stages of the second half before forcing Young into a smart save down by his post

Alexander was spoken to by the referee for following through on Annerson on fifty minutes and eventually found himself in the book for lunging in on Robinson to make him the first player to earn a booking in the game

Half chances fell to Dyer and Alexander within two minutes of each other, both of whom failed to hit the target with long-range efforts that ended up amongst the Hednesford supporters gathered behind the goal

Carruthers showed his experience to nudge Adams off the ball and get past the Hednesford defender on fifty-eight minutes, only to get the ball caught under his feet and meant he could only shoot tamely into the arms of Young

The Pitmen's second substitution of the afternoon came on sixty-one minutes as Pedro was once again withdrawn after yet another ineffective display from the winger 

On sixty-three minutes, successive Ilkeston corner kicks were cleared by the Pitmen before the ball dropped to Walker on the edge of the penalty area. His looping shot was headed over the crossbar by Adams, who got enough on the ball to put it out for another corner kick

Screaton received the game's second caution of the game two minutes later as he received his eleventh yellow card of the season for his part in a clash with Gareth Holmes

Young made a fine save to deny Carruthers once more on sixty-seven minutes as he got both hands behind the striker's powerful long-range effort from twenty-five yards out

Annerson was also busy between the sticks for the hosts, making a fine save to push Alexander's stabbed effort at goal away for a corner kick on seventy minutes

A mistake by Ilson centre-back Paul Robinson allowed the ball to drop to Hadland after he had misjudged a crossfield ball from Adams, only for Annerson to make another good save to push the winger's shot away at the near post

Holmes and White joined Screaton in the book in quick succession for fouls on Screaton and Walker respectively to stop the opposing player from getting away

Jenkins was still looking for his first Hednesford goal and was denied his maiden Pitmen strike a minute later as his low driven shot from fifteen yards out was saved by Annerson

Ilson substitute Adam made a fine run down the left wing for the hosts with ten minutes remaining as he got past a challenge from Screaton and crossed for Muller, who was wasteful with a lazy sidefooted effort towards goal that was easily saved by Young

The Pitmen's attacking options started to dry up in the final minutes, with Marshall heading another Hadland corner kick wide of the near post on eighty-five minutes

 

Three minutes later, Alexander's weak bobbling effort from eighteen yards out was easily saved by Annerson after Dyer had sidestepped a Robinson tackle just outside the penalty area

Ilkeston move up to ninth place in the table, just below the Pitmen who now occupy eighth place after wins for Whitby Town and Fleetwood Town move them above Starbuck's side. Their play-off push will now require a significant number of snookers if they are to gatecrash the top five, starting on Monday night when they get the chance to reduce the deficit to one of their fellow top-five hopefuls as they play host to Guiseley at Keys Park

Ilkeston Town: Annerson, Asher ©, Featherstone (Adam 52), Holmes , Robinson, Wood, Hindley (Munday 70), Walker, Muller, Carruthers, Wade      Subs Unused: Jemson

Hednesford Town: Young, Marshall, Screaton , Adams, White © , Sucharewycz (Bacon 22), Soar, Pedro (Jenkins 61), Hadland, Alexander , Dyer    Sub Unused: Whittaker