Non League Day brought 560 people to an eagerly anticipated local derby, but in the end the match was possibly a disappointment for it simmered, without ever coming to the boil.
As a dress rehearsal for this coming Saturday’s FA Cup clash at the same venue, neither manager will have learned a great deal. Defences reigned supreme for the vast majority of the contest, goalmouth action being sparse.
Ilkeston had scored nineteen times in their opening six matches going into the game, but another scoring spree never looked on against a disciplined and well organised Matlock back four in which Adam Yates, deployed to full back in place of the injured Micky Harcourt, was outstanding.
Equally good for the Robins was 18 years old Akil Wright who mopped up everything with the minimum of fuss. So Matlock’s Mark Atkins and Ilkeston’s Kevin Wilson need to get their thinking caps firmly on this week to devise a plan of breaking down a stubborn opposing defence.
Ilkeston had the first crack at goal on 10 minutes when Che Adams fired wide from the edge of the box from a left wing cross by James Reid. Matlock quickly countered as Josh Meade found room on the right to centre for former Ilkeston favourite Jason Stokes whose volley cleared the bar.
But apart from a tame Danny Holland strike which Goialkeeper Jordan Smith easily collected, there was nothing to excite the crowd until two chances in quick succession. On 34 Liam Nedham’s drive appeared to be faintly tipped against the bar by goalkeeper Jordan Smith before ninety seconds later, Ilkeston’s reply was a Rob Duffy header, brilliantly pushed over the bar by Jon Kennedy, the cross once again coming from Reid on the left.
A promising Matlock move which saw Joe Leesley break on the left and cross for Holland but the move was halted as the Matlock number nine pushed Joe Maguire as his header dropped wide.
Kane Richards, who had a loan spell at Matlock two years ago while still on Derby’s books, was stopped in his tracks by Yates at the expense of a corner before the uninspiring half ended with a Holland header dropping wide.
Ilkeston made a bright start to the second half but again found the Matlock defence in top form. Yates again timed a challenge to absolute perfection to deny Reid and Oscar Radford, fully recovered from his nose injury in midweek, did well to block a shot from Duffy. Adams pulled a shot harmlessly wide from distance before Yates looked for the breakthrough at the opposite end only to fire a twenty five yarder wide.
Yates again brilliantly stopped Richards in his tracks before a Duffy strike was comfortably held by Kennedy.
Predictably with most of the Ilkeston squad in full time training, the visitors looked to be finishing the stronger but Matlock deserved credit for battling their way through to what in the final analysis, was a deserved point.
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Adam Yates 3 Joe Leesley 4 Corey Gregory (12 Leon Osborne 68) 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Jason Stokes 8 Josh Meade 9 Danny Holland (14 Lavell White 90) 10 James Ashmore 11 Liam Needham Other subs: 15 Sam Robinson 16 Matt Andrews 17 Matty Leese
ILKESTON: 1 Jordan Smith 2 Luke Shaw 3 James Reid 4 Akil Wright 5 Joe Maguire 6 Jack Lane 7 David Morgan 8 Callum Chettle 9 Rob Duffy 10 Kane Richards
11 Che Adams Subs (not used) 12 Matt Baker 14 Michael Williams 15 Kieran Wallace 16 Rai Simons 17 Danny Gordon
REFEREE: Luke Watson (Barnsley) ATTENDANCE: 560 BEST GLADIATOR: Adam Yates