Match Photographer: James Williamson
Match Report by Jamie Griffiths
Ilkeston Town managed to secure their place in the Semi-Finals of the DCFA Senior Challenge Cup by beating Whaley Bridge on penalties after a 1-1 draw, but they were made to work hard for the result.
The visitors caused tension around the ground, grinding out several opportunities throughout the game, before adding drama to the tie by cancelling out Tim Hopkinson’s opener with a late equaliser. Ian Deakin stood in their way however, with The Robins stopper saving twice from the spot to set up an away tie with Alfreton in the next round.
Ilkeston struggled to put their mark on proceedings during the first 45 minutes, despite having the first chance of the game early on when Alex Marshall saw his shot from close range blocked, before the resulting corner was well cleared.
Whaley Bridge soon kicked into gear and really applied pressure to the hosts, often breaking up their attacks and quickly launching their own.
The visitor’s first golden chance to take the lead came when Dan Gilbride robbed Charlie Jemson of possession deep inside Ilkeston’s half and drove forward to the edge of the box, before firing wide of the right hand post.
Just a few minutes later, Ian Deakin had to be quick to get down low at his near post to push out a cross from the left, stopping it from sneaking in.
Another great opportunity fell to Whaley Bridge after 25 minutes when a ball over the top sent Sam Leadbetter racing through the defence, but his looped effort from distance dropped just wide of the post.
And the Whaley Bridge man had another chance after half an hour when he weaved away from his man and sent an effort just wide from 20 yards.
As the half time whistle was approaching, Ilkeston, who could have been one or two down at this point, had the chance to take the lead against the run of play. After some good movement, the ball was fired into the box, evading the defender and finding an Ilkeston player, but his flicked effort from a few yards out went over the bar.
Half Time: Ilkeston Town 0 Whaley Bridge 0
Ilkeston made a couple of changes at the break with Billy Bennett and Tom Marshall replacing Elliott Hodgett-Young and Martin Lench. The Robins also had a change in shape and it nearly worked wonders, when Marshall’s effort forced James Tattersall to get down low to deny the hosts the lead.
Despite the hosts being on the front foot in the second half, it was Whaley Bridge who nearly broke the deadlock with their first chance after the whistle, Defender Jason Broom stabbing the ball just wide at the near post.
Many chances came and went, but the game was to have a breakthrough, and it was Ilkeston who provided it. Alex Marshall did well to control the ball in the box and square it to Tim Hopkinson, who slid the ball past the keeper into the back of the net.
Marshall then had two attempts to get on the scoresheet himself and put The Robins into a commanding position, but he missed them both, sending one effort over the bar, although the angle was against him, and firing the second opportunity wide of the right hand post.
The game looked be Ilkeston’s as the clock ticked into the final ten minutes, but Whaley Bridge got the goal that their performance – first half in particular – deserved. Jack Kelly rose highest in the box to meet a free kick from the right, and powered a header into the back of the net to level it up and force a penalty shootout.
Ilkeston went first, Billy Bennett slotting the ball into the bottom corner before Bill Sutton levelled it up. (1-1)
Jamie Walker was then denied by Tattersall and Dan Gilbride confidently put Whaley Bridge into the lead. (1-2)
Ilkeston’s Marshall smashed his penalty in off the underside of the crossbar, before goal scoring hero Jack Kelly was denied by Deakin. (2-2)
Ilkeston substitute Tom Marshall found the bottom corner with his penalty, with Tom Streets doing the same. (3-3)
Chris Shaw, Ilkeston’s captain, stepped up to take their fifth spot kick, and he slotted it into the back of the net, putting huge pressure on Whaley Bridge’s next penalty taker, which happened to be their own goalkeeper, James Tattersall. The visiting stopper stepped up, but was denied by a strong save by Deakin, who palmed the ball away to send Ilkeston through to the Semi-Finals.
Full Time: Ilkeston Town 1 Whaley Bridge 1 (4-3 on Penalties)