Matlock Town 0-1 Ilkeston
The line ups at the Autoworld Arena showed the Doodson Cup to be pretty low in the pecking order of priorities for both Derbyshire rivals as youth was given its chance to shine.
Ilkeston won through to a tie at Belper next month thanks to Michael Williams who fired home a right wing cross from Rai Simmons in the 10th minute to reward the Robins’ strong start to the tie.
In the end through it was a classic game of two halves, the Robins dominating long spells of the opening half and they would be disappointed to be only one goal ahead at the break, before Matlock bossed the second period but without seriously struggling visiting custodian Jordan Smith.
Given this, the Robins just about deserved their win to maintain the stranglehold they currently have over the Gladiators in cup football.
Spectators could have been forgiven for thinking they were witnessing an FA Youth Cup clash given the number of teenagers on show, but it made for an open and entertaining contest.
Jon Kennedy held a Williams header from a 6th minute corner as Ilkeston posed the early threat although the Robins may have been punished for leaving Josh Meade with a shooting chance two minutes later only for the Matlock midfielder to badly fluff his lines with a sliced shot yards wide of the target.
Then Willaims struck after good work by the busy Simmons and soon afterwards home skipper Adam Yates did well to block a shot from the industrious Robins number nine before a vital intercepting Ellis Humble header stopped Simmons from latching on to a fine Danny Gordon pass.
Matlock, it must be said, did not help themselves by standing off their rivals and on 20 minutes they were glad that Kennedy was alert to dive to his right and push away a twenty yarder from Gordon.
But Matlock slowly became more solid and found a foothold and when Ilkeston overelaborated at the back, Niall McManus shot narrowly wide. Then debutant Andre Johnson saw an effort comfortably blocked, but at the other end, Henry Randall could and most probably should have doubled the lead in the 43rd minute. A suicidal pass across the field by Phil Roe landed at the midfielders feet, but Matlock escaped as the shot was straight at Kennedy.
Matlock soon attacked as the new half unfolded although Meade’s twenty yarder was closer to the corner flag than the goal. A rare Yates error let in Williams who poked an awkward bouncing ball past Kennedy but wide, but little was then seen of Ilkeston as an attacking forcer until late on.,
McManus was easily Matlock’s best player, seldom wasting a pass in midfield as Matlock had the key of the door but not the ingenuity to unlock it.
Ilkeston looked content to soak up the pressure which they did relatively comfortably for the most part.
Johnson had visions of a debut goal on 71 minutes only to fire narrowly high and wide from a tight angle on the left and then Lavell White’s low cross flashed across the face of the Robins’ penalty box.
The introduction of the more experienced Danny Holland and James Ashmore gave Matlock that extra threat.
But Ilkeston went close as Kennedy saved superbly from Williams before in four minutes of stoppage time Charlie Dawes delayed his shot a touch too long as it was charged down and Holland headed a Joe Leesley cross inches too high.
MATLOCK TOWN; 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Lavell White 3 Caine Winfarrah 4 Ellis Humble 5 Adam Yates 6 Joe Leesley 7 Niall McManus 8 Josh Meade (12 James Ashmore 82) 9 Andre Johnson (14 Danny Holland 82) 10 Charlie Dawes 11 Phil Roe. Subs not used: 15 Lawrence Gorman 16 Micky Harcourt
ILKESTON FC: 1 Jordan Smith 2 Luke Shaw 3 Curtis Burrows 4 Matt Baker 5 Akil Wright (15 Elliott Hodgett Young 56) 6 Jack Lane 7 Danny Gordon (12 Hayd Goddard 76) 8 Eli Bako (14 Ashley Hunter 67) 9 Rai Simmons 10 Michael Williams 11 Henry Randall Subs not used: 16 Coran Seymour 17 Jaiquil Kumari-Hill
REFEREE: Stuart Richardson (Mansfield Woodhouse) ATTENDANCE: 150
BEST GLADIATOR: Niall McManus
BEST ROBIN: Michael Williams