Referee puts brakes on Millers’ second-half fightback

NILABE120218g6, Ilkeston v New mills
NILABE120218g6, Ilkeston v New mills
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Evo-Stik League Division One South: Ilkeston FC 3, New Mills AFC 1

Ilkeston cemented their place in the Division One South play-off zone with victory over New Mills at The New Manor Ground on Saturday.

As early as the third minute, the home side’s James Reid was desperately unlucky with a 30-yard free-kick which hit the underside of the crossbar but following a short corner, his cross set-up the opening goal for Gary Ricketts who headed home at the back post just before the mid-point of the half.

The Millers, who were lacking skipper Carlos Meakin, had posed very little threat in the attacking third of the pitch up until the point that home keeper Ben Gathercole couldn’t collect Antony Field’s corner, which seemed to catch the blustery wind, but there was no New Mills player on hand to turn the loose ball home.

Ten minutes before the interval, the home side broke up an attack close to their own byline and proceeded to go the complete length of the field before doubling their advantage.

The deciding factor in the goal though was when Sam Duncum capitalised on defender Dave Chadwick’s hesitancy which allowed him a free run on goal and the striker calmly beat James Coates via the inside of the post.

When an unmarked Reid finally got on the scoresheet three minutes into the second half, the travelling fans feared a cricket score but Ilkeston seemed to declare at that point and invited New Mills to press forward.

Field’s skidding effort was the Millers’ first significant effort on target but drew an excellent low save from Gathercole.

The keeper was beaten shortly after though as he was deceived by a wicked deflection off his wall but his luck was very definitely in as Ashley Stott’s free-kick unluckily hit the base of the post before going for a corner.

Leon Grandison reduced the arrears with a quarter of an hour remaining with a neat finish following Field’s incisive through ball and almost immediately strike partner Ben Deegan missed a gilt-edged opportunity from six yards when he failed to convert Luke Horrocks’ left-wing cross.

The tall striker then had a header mysteriously chalked off by referee Mr Billingham for an anonymous push on Gathercole when to the naked eye, it appeared that he simply outjumped the keeper and with that baffling decision, the very healthy crowd of 514 were denied an exciting finale.

New Mills: Coates, Bowler, Pickford (Edridge), Swirad, Chadwick, Field (Pickering), Innes, Grandison, Deegan, Stott (Moss), Horrocks. Unused sub: Alford.