The Mikes 1-1 Ilkeston Town
Honours even in hard fought encounter
Boldmere were at full strength for this game against the League leaders, apart from the still suspended Luke Shearer, who was handing advice out to Steve Simpson from a vantage point in the Stand’s front row. Two things typified Boldmere’s overall performance: Rikardo Reid (of all people) was spoken to by the referee for a rash challenge, which left him with a limp to work off, after five minutes; and Joe Lyng (who’d spent the week in the gym) went down with cramp three times in the second half. This characterised an effort which was gutsy throughout, and thoroughly deserved three points as much as the one eventually gained.
At a guess, the Mikes were told before the game, “get in their faces; don’t let them settle; keep the ball upfield; and everybody tackles.” Anyway, that’s what they did, and for all the Robins had 60% of the territory throughout, Boldmere actually made more clear-cut chances overall. The visitors were cheered on by a large and well lubricated contingent of supporters, some of whom, on arrival by coach at ten past one, disappeared in the direction of the “Bishop Vesey”, and weren’t seen again until kick off time! The home support, by contrast, was disappointingly sparse: were they among the swarms of shoppers your scribe had to fight through to reach the ground? Unlike last Saturday’s affair at Great Wyrley, this joust was an excellent, entertaining tussle from start to finish. Our referee, Mr. Hall, was determined we were going to have a clean contest, and Ilkeston’s Jermaine Hollis entered the book after only four minutes, for giving Steve Simpson a Columbian cuddle. A need to keep on top of fouls became apparent at both ends, and with seven minutes gone, a Jamie Walker thunderbolt of a free kick from just outside the box needed two bites at the cherry by Lewis Fenney to eventually smother it. Front man Alex Marshall was next to go close with a header from a Tom Marshall (any relation?) cross: he proved to be the man to stop throughout the match, and received vigorous attention for the whole ninety minutes. Steve Simpson was the next name to be recorded, after blocking a free kick with his boot. After a number of half chances at both ends, the opening goal came on twenty-one minutes. A free kick, sent deep into the visitors’ defence, never got properly cleared, and ended up with Harry Craven (whose pivot would have gained acclaim on “Strictly Come Dancing “) volleying the ball home through a ruck of players. For the whole game, the Mikes were giving anything at the back the big boot - not pretty to watch, but clearing danger effectively. Fenney had to sprint to the bye line to clear a raid down the right, and the offside trap foiled that man Marshall when he seemed to have eluded the Boldmere back line. The Mikes were doing less of the attacking, but when they did, they could look dangerous. A long ball from Craven found Simpson, whose pass put Cameron Gayle in with a wonderful chance. Only an athletic save from Liam Mitchell stopped Cameron going from no goals ever for the Mikes, to two in eight days! Two more yellow cards emerged as the first period closed: Ilkeston’s Elliot Reeves for a foul on Simpson, Craven for similarly roughing up a visitor.
During a well-earned break, Ilkeston made two changes, bringing on Fabian Smith and Reece Fyfe. Cameron Gayle and Rico Taylor were covering acres of ground as the Mikes wouldn’t let the Robins settle. Even so, within five minutes of the restart a four man move ended with the ball going just wide of the Mikes’ post, and a speculative effort from far out flew over the bar. Rico Taylor was the next man in the book as stopper Matt Baker powered his way up field, his ankles clipped twice before he was finally brought to a halt. In reply, Simpson found his way along the goal line and fed the ball to Ben Usher-Shipway - who couldn’t keep his balance when well placed to score. As three-quarter time approached, Joe Lyng went down with the first of three attacks of cramp, and Owen Parry replaced the understandably exhausted Cameron Gayle. A Lewis Fenney “special “was needed to deny a header from twelve yards, and the book was out yet again on 72 minutes, this time for Ben Usher-Shipway for a foul. Our behind-the-scenes bean counters must have been totting up the cost of all this by now; but one hopes they’ll take the Invoice from the County philosophically: both teams were giving it their all, and though no quarter was asked or given, the game was played in a sporting spirit. With twenty minutes left, a moment of pure skill nearly put the result beyond our guests. Rikardo Reid, on the run, lobbed the goal from far out. His shot was beyond Mitchell’s reach, and had it found the inside of the far post, and not the outside, the game would have been Boldmere’s. Shots fizzed over the woodwork at both ends. With thirteen minutes to go, Liam Mitchell had to be at his best to push away a Simpson rocket fired from all of thirty yards. Jack Skinner replaced Ben Usher-Shipway with nine minutes left, as activity continued to oscillate from one end to another. The Robins, realising time was short, pressed hard for an equaliser. Ironically, it arose after a home attack. Breaking from the back, for the first time in the game the hosts looked short of defensive manpower. A cross from the left found Deon Meikle, who squeezed between a tiring Boldmere back pair, right on ninety minutes, to head home from six yards. This enlivened the visiting support considerably, invisible penalties being appealed for as Shakespeare’s old dictum “When the ale is in, the wit is out “showed itself to be true. As four minutes of added time reached its end, the Mikes nearly headed a winner from a corner; but it was not to be. The visitors were loudly cheered off the park by their followers - more in relief at gaining an away point (after a difficult period following the sudden exit of a newly appointed Manager) than anything else. Everyone on and off the pitch ended on cheerful good terms, and the Mikes can take heart from matching the League leaders; they can hope that more consistency will move them up the table.
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney; Brandon Williams; Reece Mitchell; Rico Taylor; Harry Craven; Joe Lyng; Ben Usher-Shipway (Jack Skinner 85); Ryan Shaw; Rikardo Reid; Cameron Gayle (Owen Parry 65); Steve Simpson. Subs. not used: Cameron Day; Craig Milligan; Alister Brauns.