Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Ilkeston Town

McKenzie (81), Kirkwood (90)

Hednesford Town

(0) 2

(0) 0



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Dean Craven



Bedford Town (A) 13.10.01

The pressure is back on Paul Raynor and Gavan Walker tonight as their team's recent mini-revival is ended by a wasteful display at a wet and windy Ilkeston Town tonight as the hosts take all three points with two late goals

Successive wins against Stafford Town and Bath City had lifted the Pitmen's spirits in the past ten days, earning themselves an F.A. Cup third qualifying round tie against Bedford Town and moving them off the foot of the Dr. Martens Premier League. Raynor made one change to the side that had started the exciting 4-3 win at Twerton Park at the weekend, bringing Adam Shakespeare back in to replace Stuart Lake as he remained faithful to the side that had edged out the Romans with an added-time winner

Ilkeston came into tonight's encounter off the back of a battling 2-2 draw against Worcester City on Friday night, leaving the Robins in fourth place in the table after a fine start to the campaign that had seen them lose only two of their first twelve league games, ironically against both Hednesford and Worcester earlier in the season. Manager John McGovern struck with the same side that had started at St. Georges Lane as they aimed to make it seven games unbeaten since their defeat at Keys Park last month

On a drizzly evening in Derbyshire, the hosts were quickly into the game and had an early chance through Glenn Kirkwood in the fourth minute, firing into the side netting after a pass from former Pitman Tony Hemmings had played him in behind a static Hednesford defence


The hosts appealed for a penalty kick four minutes later as Hemmings went down just inside the Hednesford box as he and Wayne Simpson came together. However, referee Mr. Capps felt that Hemmings had made a meal of the challenge and gestured to the veteran winger to get to his feet

Back came the men in blue with new signing Andy Brownrigg striding forwards from right-back on twelve minutes to drive a long-range effort just wide of Andy Love's right-hand post

The hosts were denied a chance to take the lead three minutes later by a late offside flag against another former Hednesford man as ex-Keys Park loanee David Holmes was pulled up by a marginal call on the clock stand side by the assistant who deemed the striker behind the Hednesford defence before the ball was played forwards by Matt McKenzie

An inswinging corner kick from Dean Craven on twenty-one minutes found the head of skipper Mark Haran inside the Ilkeston six-yard box, only for the centre-back to head narrowly wide at the near post

Good play from Ilkeston midfielder Emeka Nwadike saw him skip past a challenge from Stewart Airdrie on twenty-six minutes before slipping the ball into the feet of Holmes; his turn and pass found Carl Wright, whose rising shot cleared Gayle's crossbar from twelve yards out

Four minutes later, Kirkwood was played clean through by McKenzie's through ball, with play slowing somewhat as both sides checked their respective runs as they waited for an offside call that never arrived. Kirkwood took a couple of touches before steadying himself, only to miskick badly at the crucial moment and scuff his shot wide with the goal at his mercy

A long kick forwards from Love bounced kindly and into the path of Hemmings down the left wing on thirty-four minutes with the winger leaving Simpson in his wake before crossing to Holmes, whose toe-poke at the near post failed to trouble Gayle

With four minutes of the first half remaining, Gayle was called upon for the first time in the evening to make a good stop to deny Kirkwood after the Ilson midfielder had headed a Hemmings cross towards goal from ten yards out

The Pitmen had been second best for much of the first period and had lacked any sort of cutting edge in a hugely disappointing first-half from a side that had plundered eight goals in their last two games

Hednesford were much brighter at the start of the second half, with Craven's cross on forty-eight minutes taking a huge deflection off Gary Middleton's foot and drifting towards goal, only to drop wide for a Hednesford corner

Craven's resultant corner kick was played to Airdrie, lurking on the corner of the Ilkeston penalty area. His angled cross to the far post was turned back into the danger zone by Graham Lancashire towards Saturday's goal hero Neil Davis, only for Love and Nwadike to combine and clear the ball

Wright got the better of a battle between himself and Haran on fifty-three minutes and fed the ball to Nwadike, whose optimistic effort from fully thirty yards sailed over Gayle's crossbar

Simpson was the first Hednesford player into the book on the hour mark as he was shown a yellow card after a succession of fouls totted up against him which culminated in a tug on Hemmings that finally saw him enter the book

Three minutes later, Craven followed Simpson into the book as Mr. Capps produced another yellow card to the tigerish midfielder for a foul on Kirkwood in the centre circle

A mistake from Middleton on sixty-five minutes gifted the ball to Airdrie after the defender had slipped on the greasy surface trying to play out of defence. Airdrie did well to turn inside and drill a low cross to the near post, only for Davis's shot to be deflected away by the leg of the covering Gareth Williams

The game went a little stale for a spell with both sides struggling to outwit the other in midfield as balls were miscontrolled and passes went astray. Richard Lucas tried an ambitious effort from forty yards out on sixty-nine minutes but never got close to testing Love as his shot sailed harmlessly wide of goal

McKenzie showed a neat turn of heel to trick his way past Craven and into space inside the Hednesford half on seventy-three minutes, clipping the ball over the top and into the path of Holmes. The former Gresley and Gloucester man took a touch and laid the ball back into the path of Nwadike, who lifted his shot over the crossbar

Neither side looked to have the composure or instinct to put the ball into the net on a night of missed opportunities, with the anonymous Paul Bagshaw making a rare contribution on seventy-six minutes to play Lancashire through, only for the experienced frontman to check his run slightly and allow Middleton to dispossess him inside the Ilkeston penalty area

With thirteen minutes remaining, the Pitmen made their one and only change of the evening as Kevin Francis came on to add a more direct threat to the pitiful Hednesford attack for the final few minutes in place of Bagshaw

The big man was straight into the action just a minute later, nodding down a Shakespeare free-kick into the path of Davis, only for Williams to steal the ball away from the Hednesford striker before he could pull the trigger

The hosts finally found a way through with nine minutes remaining as a quick break down the left forced a corner kick out of Simpson; Hemmings' resultant kick found McKenzie unmarked just eight yards out, who sent his header into the bottom corner of the net past the dive of Gayle. Poor defending from the visitors and a soft goal conceded so late on in the game

With much to do, the Pitmen launched a counter-attack from the restart through Airdrie, whose cross was turned goalwards by Francis and denied by a fine stop from Love as he tipped the header away for a corner kick

The Pitmen committed more and more men forwards in search of a leveller as Raynor - perhaps seeing his job prospects slipping away - pushed Haran forward at every opportunity as the away side went all-out direct; Craven's cross from the right was flicked on by Francis at the near post and into the path of Haran, only for the Hednesford skipper to miss the ball as it flew across the face of goal


With the minutes ticking away, Ilkeston grabbed a breakaway second goal to kill off the Pitmen in added time; Hemmings was involved once more, using his pace to streak away from the retreating Hednesford defence and cross for Kirkwood, who had the simple task of heading past Gayle from close range to seal the points for Ilson

It was a hammer blow to the away side and for Raynor, who stood stony-faced at the final whistle after watching his team once again trudge through another ninety uninspiring minutes of football. Four wins from fourteen games is poor, patchy form that has entrenched the Pitmen in the bottom three after a quarter of the season gone. Raynor's side face a third away game in a row on Saturday as they travel to Ryman League side Bedford Town looking to progress once more in the F.A. Cup

Ilkeston Town: Love, Whitehead, Williams, Middleton, Knapper, Nwadike, Kirkwood, McKenzie, Holmes, Wright (Foster 72), Hemmings     Subs Unused: Abbott, Newton


Hednesford Town: Gayle, Brownrigg, Lucas, Simpson , Haran ©, Shakespeare, Airdrie, Craven , Lancashire, Davis, Bagshaw (Francis 77)      Subs Unused: Pickess, Lake