11 20






1953/54 CENTRAL ALLIANCE FIRST DIVISION FINAL TABLE

  P W D L F A Pts
1 ILKESTON TOWN 36 30 2 4 128 29 62
2 Nottingham Forest 'A' 36 21 8 7 97 53 50
3 Ransome & Marles 36 20 4 12 78 58 44
4 Grantham Reserves 36 18 6 12 94 73 42
5 Creswell Colliery 36 18 5 13 89 64 41
6 Langwith Miners Welfare 36 19 3 14 95 78 41
7 Belper Town 36 18 4 14 90 68 40
8 Shirebrook Miners Welfare 36 17 4 15 91 98 38
9 Notts County 'A' 36 15 7 14 94 62 37
10 Sutton Town 36 15 6 15 94 87 36
11 Linby Colliery 36 16 3 17 75 66 35
12 Clay Cross Miners Welfare 36 14 5 17 80 83 33
13 Heanor Town 36 13 7 16 68 87 33
14 Brush Sports Reserves 36 12 5 19 55 88 29
15 South Normanton Miners Welfare 36 12 4 20 75 88 28
16 Long Eaton Town 36 13 2 21 60 93 28
17 Matlock Town 36 10 4 22 69 125 24
18 Coalville Town 36 10 3 23 70 103 23
19 Retford British Ropes 36 9 2 25 52 151 20



1953/54 CENTRAL ALLIANCE RESULTS

DATE OPPONENTS RESULTS SCORERS
22 AUG NOTTS COUNTY 'A' W2-0 JEPSON, WARD
26 AUG Clay Cross Miners Welfare L0-2
29 AUG Ransome & Marles L0-1
09 SEP South Normanton Miners Welfare W3-1 LEDGER, WARD, JEPSON
12 SEP Langwith Miners Welfare W4-1 JEPSON 3, HACKLAND
19 SEP RANSOME & MARLES L2-3 BOOTH, JEPSON
10 OCT Nottingham Forest 'A' W4-1 LEDGER, JEPSON 3
17 OCT Shirebrook Miners Welfare W3-1 JEPSON 2, HACKLAND
24 OCT LINBY COLLIERY W3-0 WARD, FAULCONBRIDGE, BAKER (PEN)
07 NOV CRESWELL COLLIERY W6-3 COMMANDER 2, LEDGER, BOOTH, BLOUNT 2
14 NOV Sutton Town W4-1 WARD 2, BLOUNT, FAULCONBRIDGE
21 NOV LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE W2-0 WARD 2
28 NOV BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES W5-1 BLOUNT, WARD, FAULCONBRIDGE, JOHNSON 2
12 DEC Retford British Ropes W2-1 JOHNSON, HACKLAND
19 DEC Brush Sports Reserves W6-1 WARD 5, COMMANDER
25 DEC HEANOR TOWN W4-2 LEDGER, WARD, FAULCONBRIDGE, JOHNSON
26 DEC Heanor Town W3-1 BLOUNT, WARD, LEDGER
02 JAN MATLOCK TOWN W9-0 BLOUNT, LEDGER, FAULCONBRIDGE 2, ATTWOOD, OG, BAKER (PEN), JOHNSON, WARD
09 JAN Notts County 'A' D2-2 JOHNSON 2
23 JAN Creswell Colliery W3-1 WARD 2, JOHNSON
30 JAN Coalville Town W3-0 WARD 2, HACKLAND
06 FEB GRANTHAM RESERVES W4-2 WARD 2, BLOUNT 2
20 FEB CLAY CROSS MINERS WELFARE W5-0 WARD 2, FAULCONBRIDGE 2, JOHNSON
27 FEB Long Eaton Town W3-0 WARD 2, JOHNSON
06 MAR Matlock Town W10-0 LEDGER 3, FAULCONBRIDGE 2, WARD 2, BLOUNT 2, JOHNSON
13 MAR BELPER TOWN W4-0 BLOUNT, JOHNSON 2, LEDGER
20 MAR SUTTON TOWN W5-0 WARD, FOX (OG), JOHNSON, LEDGER, ATTWOOD (PEN)
27 MAR NOTTINGHAM FOREST 'A' D1-1 BAKER (PEN)
03 APR Linby Colliery W1-0 JOHNSON
05 APR Grantham Reserves W4-0 WARD, BLOUNT 2, JOHNSON
10 APR Belper Town L0-1
17 APR LONG EATON TOWN W2-1 COATES (OG), BAKER (PEN)
19 APR COALVILLE TOWN W2-0 BOOTH, HACKLAND
24 APR RETFORD BRITISH ROPES W6-0 WARD 3, BLOUNT, JOHNSON 2
29 APR SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE W7-0 LEDGER, WARD 3, HACKLAND, JOHNSON 2
01 MAY SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE W4-1 JOHNSON, FAULCONBRIDGE, WARD, BLOUNT



1953/54 FA CUP RESULT

ROUND DATE OPPONENTS RESULT SCORERS
1QR 26 SEP Gresley Rovers L2-3 JEPSON 2



1953/54 DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP RESULTS

ROUND DATE OPPONENTS RESULT ATT SCORERS
1R 05 DEC NIGHTINGALE ATHLETIC W5-1 LEDGER, WARD, BLOUNT, FAULCONBRIDGE 2
QF 16 JAN CRESWELL COLLIERY W4-2aet 2500 JOHNSON 2, LEDGER, WARD
SF 13 FEB Heanor Town W5-0 2500 FAULCONBRIDGE 2, WARD 3
F 16 APR Shirebrook Miners Welfare L0-1 5601

NB. The Final was staged on the Baseball Ground.



1953/54 CENTRAL ALLIANCE LEAGUE CUP RESULTS

ROUND DATE OPPONENTS RESULT SCORERS
1R 05 SEP LINBY COLLIERY W1-0 FAULCONBRIDGE
2R 03 OCT BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES W3-1aet ROGERS, JEPSON 2
QF 31 OCT NOTTINGHAM FOREST 'A' L1-2 BAKER

TOWN WIN OPENER
22ND AUGUST 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 2 NOTTS COUNTY "A" 0
Town, who included debutant Dave Baker playing against a former club, made a steady start and comfortably beat Notts County thanks to two goals shortly before half time. Notts ‘keeper Smith had a good game and when Ilkeston attacked early on he made a good stop from Ken Faulconbridge’s shot following Ken Ledger’s free kick. Barrie Jepson also came close to scoring when he just failed to connect with Jackie Ward’s cross. Clarke soon posed a threat at the other end and one effort was cleared off the line by Ted Attwood while another was saved by Selwyn Mason. Ilkeston still did most of the attacking, however, but they had to wait until the 43rd minute before scoring their first goal of the season. Ledger’s corner was headed on by Faulconbridge and Jepson stuck the chance away. Then in the final seconds of the half Ward’s corner created chaos and after Jepson and Eddie Rogers had shots blocked Ward himself slammed in the loose ball.

Notts came more into the game during the second period. MacKay tried a lob that Mason saved and they pressed further when Les Smith had to leave the pitch for ten minutes with an injured groin. Colin Guyler (later an Ilkeston player) headed wide and John Commander made a brilliant saving tackle when another future Town player Terry Sewell looked set to score. Mason then went full length to save Sewell’s rasping shot. Town gradually regained control and Jepson went inches wide with a header. Then Ward’s rising shot flew over the bar. Sewell headed over at the other end but with Ilkeston now in control they created the better opportunities including a Smith header that was just off target.

ILKESTON OFF THE PACE
26TH AUGUST 1953
CLAY CROSS MINERS WELFARE 2 ILKESTON TOWN 0
Ilkeston played nothing like they were capable of and the home side took full advantage. Clay Cross were far superior during the first half and they went ahead in the 20th minute when Baker passed to Barton who shot beyond Selwyn Mason. Baker caused problems again six minutes later and won a penalty that he converted himself despite Mason getting a hand to it. When Town did try to press forward they had no answer to Clay Cross’ well organised offside trap.

Ilkeston had far more possession during the second half but failed to find a way back because of good defending by Clay Cross and poor finishing on their own part. Jackie Ward was the biggest culprit when he twice missed from inside the six yard area.

MINI CRISIS FOR TOWN
29TH AUGUST 1953
RANSOME & MARLES 1 ILKESTON TOWN 0
Ilkeston fell to a second successive Central Alliance defeat for the first time in over two years. They played well enough but there was no end product to their play and they could not complain about the result. The early evening kick off saw Ilkeston do most of the early pressing. Footitt made a fine save to keep out Jackie Ward’s shot from the edge of the area. Selwyn Mason also had to make a good save and he injured a leg, that caused him great discomfort thereafter, in doing so. Ransome’s Mathieson was also in the wars when Eddie Rogers caught him. Rogers was ordered off the pitch by the referee to have some nails on his boots knocked down as a result. After John Commander’s rising shot and Ward’s flick were both saved by Footitt the home side began to stamp the authority. Longworth went close before they thought they had scored through Guest but the linesman’s flag cut short the celebrations. The home players surrounded the referee who had originally signalled a goal but they could not get him to change his mind a second time. However, they did go in front on 40 minutes with a soft goal. Guest’s header was going straight to Mason until Les Smith’s untimely intervention redirected the ball into the net. Ken Faulconbridge shot over the bar when Ilkeston pushed for an equaliser before the break.

Ilkeston dictated the play early in the second half and Ransome’s desperate defenders gave away a succession of free kicks that came to nothing. Town were guilty of trying one pass too many and the closest they came to scoring was Rogers’ header that flew the wrong side of the post. Eventually Town’s pressure subsided and Ransome regained the initiative. Dave Baker’s misplaced backpass almost went into his own net, Davies’ effort went just wide, Longworth burst through but was unable to finish and Mathieson shot wide from close range. Their best chance fell to Clark when he went clear with no defender in tow but failed to make the most of the opportunity.

LINBY FLATTERED BY NARROW DEFEAT
5TH SEPTEMBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 1 LINBY COLLIERY 0 (LEAGUE CUP 1ST ROUND)
Town produced a much improved display to record their very first home win over Linby but once more the forwards failed to provide the goals the performance deserved. Linby could have gone in front early on but Wardle took too long to get in a shot and Selwyn Mason came to Ilkeston’s rescue. But for most of the game the visitors chose to defend in depth. Alwyn Booth and Ken Faulconbridge sent first time shots over before Ilkeston almost took the lead. Peck’s miskick allowed Barrie Jepson to get in a shot which struck the post and Jackie Ward put the rebound wide. Peck made amends shortly after when he blocked a John Commander shot on the line. Ilkeston finally went ahead on 27 minutes when Jepson’s cross caused confusion and although ‘keeper Pugh managed to block a couple of shots he could do nothing about Faulconbridge’s excellent hook shot. After Linby made a brief attempt to get back in the game Town dominated the rest of the half and Faulconbridge was unlucky to see his header cleared off the line by Robinson.

Pugh was excellent for Linby in the face of almost constant Ilkeston attacks after half time. Yet the visitors could have equalised when Braddow hesitated and allowed Les Smith to rob him. Ward, Jepson and Ken Ledger all went close with shots and Faulconbridge was only inches over as Ilkeston threatened to make the game safe. At the other end Wardle’s header drifted harmlessly across the face of the goal before the game ended shortly after Horace Hackland’s terrific 30 yard volley flew wide of the post.

ILKESTON CLINCH FIRST AWAY WIN
9TH SEPTEMBER 1953
SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE 1 ILKESTON TOWN 3
Town won away for the first time since the start of the season and were superior in every department after taking the lead in the 7th minute. Barrie Jepson cleverly drew the home defence before slipping the ball to Ken Ledger who finished with a fierce shot. Former Ilkeston player Geoff Jones missed the target for South Normanton but that was their only effort of note during the first half. Ilkeston’s second arrived on 15 minutes when Jackie Ward, on his 100th appearance, headed in a Ledger corner.

South Normanton ‘keeper Hickman turned over a fine Ken Faulconbridge effort just after half time before Selwyn Mason was first called into serious action with several good saves. However, Ilkeston went further ahead in the 54th minute when Ward’s cross was headed in superbly by Jepson. The home side staged a late rally and scored a consolation goal two minutes from time when Hill’s shot cannoned into the net off Auckland. There were two injuries during the game. The referee was hit by the ball in the small of the back and required treatment whilst Town skipper Les Smith suffered another injury which kept him out of the side for three weeks.

LANGWITH LONG BALLS DON’T STOP TOWN
12TH SEPTEMBER 1953
LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE 1 ILKESTON TOWN 4
Langwith’s direct approach failed to knock out of their stride an Ilkeston side approaching their best form. Town were clearly the better side from the off and went close early on when Brown saved Alwyn Booth’s header. They deservedly went in front on 15 minutes when John Commander cut out Curtis’ long clearance before sending a delightful pass to Jackie Ward who slipped the ball inside for Barrie Jepson to score from close range. Langwith tried to get back on level terms with a spell of pressure during which Swinscoe, Parratt and Tomlinson missed chances but they found themselves further behind immediately after Brown saved another Booth header. His misdirected clearance went straight to Ken Faulconbridge who found Ward and his pass was smashed into the net by Jepson. Brown was almost constantly in action for the remainder of the half as Ilkeston launched a series of attacks.

Langwith began the second half brightly before the game began to get heated. Town’s Dave Baker retaliated after two separate fouls by Tomlinson and the referee needed to speak to both players. Tomlinson received a further stern warning following a poor challenge on Selwyn Mason. As Langwith grew more frustrated Ilkeston regained control and on 72 minutes Horace Hackland’s free kick from the edge of the box was deflected into the net by Curtis for the third. Langwith pulled a goal back a minute later when Hopkin played in former Town player Geoff Parkin who beat Mason, and they pressed in earnest during the latter stages. However, the last word fell to Ilkeston when Barrie Jepson chased a seemingly lost cause to head past Brown and inside the post in the 88th minute.

RANSOME COMPLETE DOUBLE
19TH SEPTEMBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 2 RANSOME & MARLES 3
Ransome beat Ilkeston for the second time in three weeks but Ilkeston only had themselves to blame. Despite enjoying plenty of possession Town deserved everything they got through poor defending. The warning signs appeared early on when Longworth’s shot bounced off Selwyn Mason’s chest and Guest’s follow up cross fell just beyond Wright’s reach. Later Wright beat Ted Attwood but Town scrambled his cross clear with difficulty. In between Footitt saved a Jackie Ward header. Ilkeston began to apply pressure of their own and Footitt was forced to turn a clever Ken Faulconbridge screw shot over the top. Barrie Jepson then headed over before finally Town took a deserved lead on 23 minutes following a good move between Ken Ledger and Jepson that was finished by Alwyn Booth. Within seconds the scores were level, Wright walking the ball into the net after Town’s defence failed to clear. Jepson had a chance to put Ilkeston back in front on the stroke of half time but he shot hopelessly wide much to his frustration.

Both teams attacked vigorously during the second half and it was the visitors who edged in front on 63 minutes. With Horace Hackland out of position Ilkeston were caught off guard by a long clearance and Wright supplied Longworth with the chance to score from close range. The game ebbed and flowed and Footitt was the busier of the two ‘keepers. It was no surprise when Jepson banged home a 77th minute equaliser. However, for the second time in the match, Ransome scored within seconds of an Ilkeston goal when Longworth scored his second. The final ten minutes were exciting as Ilkeston threw men forward. Footitt made several fine saves, shots were blocked and Town also hit the woodwork. But it has to be said that Ransome could easily have added to their score when they counter attacked.

TOWN SINK IN THE MOAT
26TH SEPTEMBER 1953
GRESLEY ROVERS 3 ILKESTON TOWN 2 (FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND)
Ilkeston’s defensive frailties resurfaced with hesitancy and misunderstanding reigning supreme. All in all it was a sad final appearance for Albert Ball who bowed out after 170 first team games. Gresley applied plenty of early pressure and Joe Sharman was forced to punch out a well struck shot by Smith. Despite Simnett’s brave save at Barrie Jepson’s feet at the other end Gresley dominated until they took the lead on 15 minutes. Ted Attwood and Ball both left the ball for Sharman to collect but Smith was alive to the situation and was able to lift the ball over the ‘keeper. Ilkeston responded well and after two well struck long range shots by Horace Hackland flew inches wide they equalised in the 24th minute. Ken Ledger’s low mishit corner caught Gresley unawares and Jepson hooked the ball in past Simnett. The Gresley ‘keeper saved a Ledger shot by the foot of the post soon after but all Town’s good work counted for nothing in the 30th minute when Gresley scored a carbon copy goal following Allen’s cross. On this occasion it was Green who lifted the ball over the stranded Sharman. Ilkeston had a good case for a penalty shortly before half time when Jepson, bursting through, was pushed by Tapping but the referee waved play on.

Play was end to end during the second half but Gresley always looked the more dangerous. Allen shot into the side net and Ken Johnson, who joined Ilkeston weeks later, had a goalbound shot headed clear by Attwood. Then Ken Faulconbridge struck a fierce shot but Simnett was equal to it and Gresley returned to the attack. Green’s shot was headed clear by Attwood, Sharman made a great save to deny Johnson and then he saved bravely at Johnson’s feet. With the game in the balance as it entered the closing stages Town looked for an equaliser. Jepson headed just over and Faulconbridge came closer still when his shot clipped the bar. Bayles then forced Sharman into a fine save before Gresley scored the killer, controversial third goal. No one quite understood why the home side was awarded a penalty but Johnson made sure from the spot seven minutes from time. Jepson gave Ilkeston hope when he scored his second a minute later following Ball’s corner yet it was Gresley who finished strongly. Sharman produced a brilliant diving save to keep out Green and then stopped a Bayles effort from point blank range.

DOMINANT TOWN TAKEN TO EXTRA TIME
3RD OCTOBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 3 BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES 1 (LEAGUE CUP SECOND ROUND AFTER EXTRA TIME)
Ilkeston finally won an extraordinary game they dominated from start to finish. They should have won by a hatful of goals but were let down by poor finishing, suffered outrageous misfortune in front of goal and were repeatedly denied by the inspired Brush ‘keeper Lilley. To cap it all the visitors equalised with the last kick of normal time when Mills hooked the ball into the net following a corner.

Town took the lead as early as the 2nd minute when Barrie Jepson’s cross was headed by Ken Ledger to Eddie Rogers who was left with a simple finish. The enthusiastic but limited Brush team tried to get level and Fitchett’s long shot brought a comfortable save from Joe Sharman but from then on it was almost total Ilkeston pressure. Jepson’s header was saved by Lilley, John Commander rattled the bar, Ledger went on a brilliant solo run but his final shot was off target and then he hit the post twice. Horace Hackland and Ledger then had long range shots blocked and several other efforts went wide before Commander hit the bar on the stroke of half time.

Sharman saved Kelly’s low shot early in the second half before Ilkeston continued where they left off. Alwyn Booth, making his 200th appearance, hooked Ledger’s cross harmlessly over. Then Ilkeston had a great opportunity to make the game safe. Hodges handled in the area but Ledger could only direct his penalty straight at Lilley. The referee ordered a retake as the ‘keeper was not on his line only for Ledger to fail for a second time. Brush fired a warning as Sharman twice had to dash from his goal to clear from Barron and O’Grady yet Town remained dominant and Ledger went agonisingly close with a free kick that was deflected wide by Kelly. Then came Mills’ stunning last gasp equaliser.

The match continued in a similar fashion. Lilley produced a great save to keep out Ledger and then Ilkeston hit the woodwork for the fifth time when Faulconbridge, after a mazy dribble, crashed a shot against the bar. Town regained the lead at last in the 100th minute when Dave Baker ran up the wing before delivering a perfect cross for Jepson to head in. Five minutes from time they made certain of a passage to the last eight thanks to a lovely move involving Baker, Rogers, Faulconbridge and Ledger. The latter swept the ball into the middle and Jepson thumped in his second and Town’s third. Hackland almost made the final score more realistic but his smashing shot late on was just stopped by Lilley.

TOWN SHOW CHAMPIONSHIP FORM
10TH OCTOBER 1953
NOTTINGHAM FOREST "A" 1 ILKESTON TOWN 4
Ilkeston, with Horace Hackland making his 150th appearance, were back to their best and provided a delightful display of entertaining football in a game full of incident and a little bit of needle. They were on top straight away and it was no surprise when they took a 9th minute lead. Jackie Ward’s corner was met by a deft Ken Faulconbridge header and Ken Ledger cracked in a rare left footed goal. Fryer came close to levelling with a flying header but Town continued to dominate. Jepson tested Woodhouse from 25 yards and Ledger’s shot on the run from a similar range flew just over. However they scored a deserved second on 28 minutes when Faulconbridge’s lovely pass found Ledger who sent over a fierce cross for Jepson to head home. Two minutes later they grabbed a third when Ward’s corner was met by another Jepson header. John Bailey, a future Ilkeston player, briefly threatened before half time but he was bundled off the ball by Les Smith when he was about to shoot.

Ilkeston were all over Forest early in the second half and Ward was unfortunate when his shot crashed against the bar. John Commander and Faulconbridge, with a snap shot, both had efforts saved by Woodhouse but the fourth goal had to come. It duly arrived on 57 minutes with a brilliant Jepson solo effort. Picking the ball up 40 yards from goal he strode forward before cracking the ball into the top corner to complete a superb hat-trick. Forest pulled a goal back a minute later when Bailey swerved the ball past Sharman following a lovely move. This gave the home side heart and Sharman had to be at his most agile to keep out Bailey’s first time shot. He then produced another diving save to keep out Holder. But with no sign of Forest making a further breakthrough Ilkeston looked comfortable during the final stages.

ILKESTON FIGHT BACK TO CLAIM POINTS
17TH OCTOBER 1953
SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE 1 ILKESTON TOWN 3
Town came back from behind with a strong second half performance to deservedly beat a Shirebrook side whose game was based on kick and rush. Ilkeston made up for in efficiency what they lacked in fluency in a match that kicked off 25 minutes after the scheduled kick off due to the late arrival of the referee. Barrie Jepson, who chipped a bone in his ankle during the game (he played on for the next couple of games before conceding defeat and having an operation), was the first player to have an effort on target but his shot was weak and straight at Hunt. Joe Sharman saved at the other end from Hopkins but Ilkeston nearly went in front when Ken Ledger’s swerving shot from an acute angle was cleared off the line by Simmons. Instead it was the home side who went ahead on 21 minutes when Reast headed Eaton’s cross past a hesitant Sharman. Jepson could have levelled shortly before half time when he broke clear and his shot was only inches away.

Shirebrook defended desperately during the second half which Town dominated for long periods. They could do little to prevent Ilkeston from equalising in the 55th minute when Ledger beat four defenders and crossed for Jepson who did the rest. Twenty minutes later Town took the lead. Ken Faulconbridge passed to Jepson and although he miscontrolled the ball he was still able to put it beyond Hunt to score his 115th and final goal for the club. Horace Hackland made the game safe six minutes from time when he dispossessed Eaton before unleashing a 30 yard thunderbolt.

LINBY LICKED BY SLICK ILKESTON
24TH OCTOBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 3 LINBY COLLIERY 0
Impressive Ilkeston were far superior to their former bogey team. They attacked almost constantly and Joe Sharman did not have a save to make. Barrie Jepson was just off target prior to Town taking a 7th minute lead. Ken Ledger’s corner caused a frantic scramble with Jepson and Ken Faulconbridge both having shots blocked before Jackie Ward bundled the ball in. Jepson then forced Pugh, who was in fine form throughout, into a full length save. Linby’s only effort of note during the first half came when Harold Baker (brother of Town’s Dave) evaded Les Smith but shot harmlessly wide. Ilkeston went further ahead a minute before the break when Pugh could only punch Jepson’s shot into the the path of Faulconbridge who scored with a flying header.

There were fewer incidents after half time as Linby defended stubbornly and the visitors could have sneaked a goal when Sallis blazed over from close range. But Ilkeston still created chances. Baker touched a free kick to Ledger and his shot was blocked on the line by Peck. However they had to wait until seven minutes from time before scoring a third. Jepson was brought down by Hickling and Baker made no mistake from the spot with a fierce low drive.

FOREST DELIVER KNOCKOUT BLOW
31ST OCTOBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST "A" 2 (LEAGUE CUP QUARTER-FINAL)
Interest in the Central Alliance League Cup ended prematurely yet again for Ilkeston but it was hard to fathom how they managed to lose. They played in a lively fashion and looked solid in defence and they bombarded the Forest defence, particularly during the first half. Barrie Jepson and Ken Faulconbridge both saw shots hit the woodwork and Jackie Ward headed against the post yet it was Forest who took the lead on 24 minutes when Wilson’s harmless cross was sliced into his own net by John Commander. This pretty much summed up Ilkeston’s afternoon especially as their fierce pressure failed to produce a goal before half time.

Joe Sharman made a good save from Holder’s lob after the break as Forest showed a marked improvement but it was still totally against the run of play when they scored a second on 79 minutes. John Bailey, later an Ilkeston player, gave Sharman no chance with a well placed shot. Horace Hackland shot wide and then had a shot saved by Durrant as Ilkeston launched sustained attacks and they were finally rewarded when Dave Baker shot through a crowd of players two minutes from time. It was not enough to prevent Forest from progressing to the semi finals. Barrie Jepson made his final appearance before going in to hospital for treatment to his ankle injury. On his return to fitness he was transferred to Mansfield Town.

COMMANDING WIN FOR TOWN
7TH NOVEMBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 6 CRESWELL COLLIERY 3
On a greasy surface Ilkeston were clear cut winners and would have won by a bigger margin but for two late Creswell goals. John Commander fired Town ahead on 14 minutes with a hard low shot from the edge of the box that took a deflection off Creswell’s Taylor’s outstretched leg. With Ilkeston well on top Commander scored his second with a similar strike ten minutes later. Their third arrived in the 32nd minute when Ken Ledger ran onto Alwyn Booth’s cross to score. Ilkeston’s fourth goal came four minutes before half time, Booth heading in after Ken Faulconbridge’s effort hit the bar.

Creswell’s first real chance came early in the second half when Atkin shot straight at Joe Sharman from close range. However, Town went further ahead on 61 minutes when debutant Terry Blount took full advantage of Commander’s astute pass. Creswell pulled a goal back less than a minute later as Atkin broke down the middle before providing Messenger with a simple finish. Their joy was shortlived when Blount scored his second on 70 minutes with a fine goal. He cleverly took the ball past Beresford and his shot gave Wilson no chance. Creswell’s second came in the 75th minute through Atkin who controlled Lee’s cross before firing home. Atkin scored a similar goal in the last minute. Les Smith made his 150th appearance for Ilkeston.

ILKESTON IMPROVEMENT CONTINUES
14TH NOVEMBER 1953
SUTTON TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 4
This was an emphatic victory for Ilkeston and it was well deserved. After surviving some early Sutton pressure Ilkeston took the lead in the 10th minute. Terry Blount’s cross was headed on by Ken Faulconbridge and Jackie Ward netted with a deft flick. Blount was unlucky when he eluded Fox only to see his shot crash against the underside of the bar but he had the satisfaction of starting and finishing the move that led to the second goal. Blount’s flick found debutant Ken Johnson and the inch perfect return was controlled and coolly fired past Brooks. Town made it three on 30 minutes when Brooks punched out Blount’s cross shot to Faulconbridge who lobbed in from 20 yards. Ken Ledger suffered misfortune later in the first half when his shot came off the post.

Sutton pulled a goal back in the 49th minute. Buchannan and Praski combined for Wheatley to put the ball past Joe Sharman, making his 100th appearance, from close range. Four minutes later Brooks could only palm out a Faulconbridge shot from distance and Ward dashed in to score Town’s fourth. Sutton had more of the play during the rest of the game but Ilkeston always looked comfortable.

ILKESTON CLIMB TO THIRD
21ST NOVEMBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 2 LANGWITH MINERS WELFARE 0
An enjoyable fast open game ended with Ilkeston earning a deserved victory that moved them up to third place in the table. Langwith also contributed greatly and but for some poor finishing they could have got something from the game. Parrott put a great chance wide early in the match and this set the tone. Ilkeston, however, showed their opponents how it should be done in the 28th minute. Ken Johnson cleverly drew the defence before sending Terry Blount away down the left. Although his cross was overhit it found Ken Ledger who put the ball back in for Jackie Ward to head home. Langwith continued to create opportunities but Watts’ finish was a poor one when well placed and Swinscoe shot straight at Joe Sharman.

Ward thought he had put Town two goals up early in the second half but his effort was ruled out for offside. The second goal came on 55 minutes when Ken Faulconbridge broke through the centre and chipped the ball forward for Ward to head past Brown. Tomlinson forced Sharman into two saves as Langwith tried to find a way back but Ilkeston gradually assumed control. A Blount free kick was headed off the line by Orchard and Ward’s free kick was handled by a defender but no penalty was awarded.

BRUSH CRUSHED
28TH NOVEMBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 5 BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES 1
Ilkeston moved up to second spot with an emphatic victory and would have won by an even higher margin had they not tried to walk the ball into the net at times during the second half. Yet they got off to the worst possible start when Brush took the lead inside the first minute. Ernie Williamson (a future Town player) chased a long ball down the middle and hooked the ball past the advancing Joe Sharman whereupon the unlucky John Commander, racing back, could only watch in horror as the ball bounced off his knee and into his own net. The visitors lead only lasted for four minutes. Ilkeston’s equaliser came when Ken Ledger sent over a deep cross that was thumped in by the onrushing Terry Blount. They then took the lead in the 21st minute when Ledger, with a fine run, cut inside and although his shot was blocked by Hollis the ball rebounded to the unmarked Jackie Ward who was left with a simple finish. Brush had a chance to equalise before the break when Fitchett was put in the clear but he shot harmlessly wide.

Ilkeston scored their third within a minute of the restart. Ken Johnson sent Blount away down the left and although he pulled the ball back too far Ledger retrieved the situation on the opposite wing before crossing from the byline for Ken Faulconbridge to send an excellent diving header past Lilley. Bardsley’s free kick saw Sharman produce an excellent tip over but for the most part Ilkeston continued to make most of the attacking moves. On 65 minutes Commander ran forward from deep before sending a perfect pass through to Johnson who made no mistake. Town completed the scoring five minutes later when Ledger went on a marvellous long run and his cross was converted by Johnson for his second.

NIGHTINGALE BEATEN BUT TOWN SANG OUT OF TUNE
5TH DECEMBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 5 NIGHTINGALE ATHLETIC 1 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP 1ST ROUND)
Town’s over confidence against spirited but less able opponents from the Derby & District Senior League resulted in a sloppy performance and it needed a spell of five goals in 19 second half minutes to settle the issue. During the remainder of the game they severely tested the patience of their supporters. Joe Sharman made a splendid save from Ault’s 15 yard shot and was the busier of the two goalkeepers during the first half. Ilkeston came close to going ahead on two occasions, firstly when Dave Baker’s free kick hit the post and then Alwyn Booth struck the bar.

With the light fading fast the teams turned around for the second half without a break. Again Nightingale threatened and Shillock missed a chance to put them ahead. Town finally got to grips in the 57th minute when Ken Ledger popped up to score. A minute later they went further ahead when Terry Blount’s cross was converted by Jackie Ward. With Ilkeston now showing something like their true form Lester made several good stops before Blount scored with a smashing shot on the run on 67 minutes. The fourth arrived in the 75th minute when Ken Faulconbridge applied the finishing touch after Lester parried Ward’s shot. They only had to wait another minute before Ledger and Faulconbridge broke clear of a disheartened defence and the latter was left with a simple finish. Nightingale scored the consolation goal they deserved within a minute when Ault supplied the pass for Baldwin to shoot past Sharman.

TOWN PUSHED ALL THE WAY
12TH DECEMBER 1953
RETFORD BRITISH ROPES 1 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Yet another victory for the champions meant that they went to the top of the Central Alliance for the first time in the season. But after Ken Ledger shot high and wide from three yards early in the game Town really struggled in the first half against a Retford side both faster on the ball and in the tackle. The home side deservedly went in front on 30 minutes when Oxley beat Ted Attwood and sent over a cross which Joe Sharman was unable to take cleanly. Codd bundled the loose ball home. Town provided a sign of better things to come when Jackie Ward’s stunning header struck the bar before half time,

Ilkeston were much improved during the second half after the teams turned round without a break due to the fast fading light. Horace Hackland’s fierce shot was saved by Taylor and a Ledger shot was headed clear by Riley. The equaliser eventually came when Ward’s long corner was knocked back by Ledger to Ken Johnson who had time to steady himself before firing home. Taylor was kept busy in the Retford goal but was beaten ten minutes from time. Ward’s corner was cleared only as far as Hackland who scored with a sweet volley. Ilkeston were far from comfortable during the final minutes and were hanging on at the end in the face of some fierce Retford pressure.

ILKESTON GET THEIR RE-WARD
19TH DECEMBER 1953
BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES 1 ILKESTON TOWN 6
Jackie Ward scored five as Ilkeston produced a display of ruthless efficiency following a first half of twists and turns. Brush enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges until Ward put Town ahead in the 14th minute. The boost of a goal spurred Ilkeston on but in the 23rd minute future Town player Ernie Williamson equalised against the run of play. Play then flowed from end to end. Ken Faulconbridge’s superb dribble ended with a shot that Newball saved and then Williamson’s hard shot brought a good save from Joe Sharman at the other end. Ilkeston went ahead three minutes before the break when Terry Blount put Ken Johnson clear and his pass left Ward with a simple chance.

Ilkeston took complete control of the second half and scored a third on 48 minutes. Faulconbridge broke down the right and centred for Ward to complete his hat-trick. Three minutes later it was four when Horace Hackland sent a long ball forward to Ken Ledger who collided with Newball as he attempted to flick the ball goalwards. Ward was on hand to ram in the loose ball. Morley shot well wide when Brush created a rare opportunity but Town continued to dominate. They scored again on 77 minutes soon after Newball had parried a Ledger piledriver. John Commander’s speculative 30 yard lob eluded the Brush ‘keeper. Ilkeston’s sixth arrived nine minutes from time when Faulconbridge sent Ledger dashing down the right and he set up Ward for his fifth. Commander had to leave the pitch during the dying minutes after a stray elbow gave him a nasty cut under the eye but Brush failed to score a consolation despite their advantage in numbers.

TOWN LAX IN LOCAL DERBY
25TH DECEMBER 1953
ILKESTON TOWN 4 HEANOR ATHLETIC 2
Christmas Day provided a present of two points for Ilkeston but their apparent apathy during the second half could have been costly against better opponents. Heanor went ahead against the run of play in the fifth minute when Bailey’s cross caught Joe Sharman by surprise and when the ball bounced back into play via the angle of the woodwork future Town player Dennis Breedon pounced to score. Their lead lasted less than a minute. Jackie Ward dashed up the left before sending over a high cross that Ken Ledger slammed past Thornley. Heanor gifted Ilkeston their second goal on 19 minutes when Harrison’s error allowed Ledger to set up Ward. This was the first of three Town goals in four minutes. In the 21st minute Terry Blount’s long cross was met first time by Ledger and although Thornley blocked the shot Ken Faulconbridge was on hand to convert the rebound. Then Ward deceived Westwood and provided Ken Johnson with an easy finish two minutes later.

Ilkeston enjoyed plenty of possession after half time but there was no urgency in their play at all. They allowed Heanor to pull a goal back in the 59th minute when Dave Baker fouled Breedon who put away the penalty himself. Town only came to life during the closing stages when Thornley had to make good saves from Ward, Blount and Faulconbridge. Horace Hackland injured a foot during the game and this caused him to be out of the team for a fortnight.

NO REVENGE FOR HEANOR
26TH DECEMBER 1953
HEANOR ATHLETIC 1 ILKESTON TOWN 3
Ilkeston improved greatly upon the showing of the previous day after surviving an early penalty scare. Town almost went ahead in the first minute when Jackie Ward broke through only to shoot straight at Thornley. With both sides showing plenty of intent early on Heanor should have gone ahead on 13 minutes. Dulson was brought down for a clear penalty but Dennis Breedon (later an Ilkeston player) hit the base of the post from the spot kick. Breedon followed up to score but as no other player had touched the ball the goal was ruled out. Instead of being ahead Heanor found themselves in arrears within a minute. Ken Ledger’s free kick close to the corner flag was met by Terry Blount with a towering header. Heanor refused to lie down, however, and Joe Sharman had to dive full length to keep out Clarke and then he saved a fierce shot by Breedon. Yet it was Ilkeston who scored next in the 39th minute. Soon after Thornley saved a Blount header Ken Faulconbridge broke forward before supplying a killer pass to Jackie Ward who could hardly miss.

The second half began with Bill Passmore (later an Ilkeston player) just failing to connect with Hart’s clever pass but Ilkeston were comfortable throughout. Alwyn Booth sent a terrific shot wide of the post. At the other end Sharman made comfortable saves from Breedon and Dulson before Ilkeston scored their third on 65 minutes with a lovely goal. Ralph Evans lofted the ball out of defence and Ledger streaked away before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Thornley. Don Mayes almost scored a fourth but Ledger’s cross was just out of reach. Heanor scored a consolation goal three minutes from time when Dulson converted Breedon’s corner.

MATLOCK MASSACRED
2ND JANUARY 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 9 MATLOCK TOWN 0
The first game of the New Year saw Ilkeston destroy a desperately poor Matlock team on a frost bound treacherous pitch. The win took Ilkeston five points clear at the top. They took the lead in the 8th minute when Galley, distracted by Jackie Ward, allowed Terry Blount’s shot to squirm through his fingers. He made up for his error with an excellent save from Ken Faulconbridge’s snap shot and then had some luck when Ward’s shot hit the foot of the post. Carter, with Matlock’s only chance of the game, sent a shot hopelessly wide from a good position. However, Ilkeston scored a second on 21 minutes through a hard low Ken Ledger shot and they scored again eight minutes later. Ward’s effort was blocked by Galley and Faulconbridge headed home the rebound. Faulconbridge scored his second in the 31st minute when he glided a header into the net following Dave Baker’s free kick.

Ilkeston didn’t let up after the break. Ted Attwood curled the ball into the top corner from fully 30 yards on 49 minutes and within five minutes Town added a sixth when Ledger’s corner went into the net via a Matlock defender. The seventh goal came from a Baker penalty awarded for reasons unknown to anyone except the referee. Town increased their lead further on 78 minutes after a lovely move between Ken Johnson and Blount ended with the former banging the ball home in style. Ward, who had come desperately close to scoring several times including a miss from 3 yards in the 79th minute, concluded the scoring a minute later when he took full advantage of Johnson’s perfect pass.

TOWN SURRENDER TWO GOAL LEAD
9TH JANUARY 1954
NOTTS COUNTY ‘A’ 2 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Ilkeston’s winning sequence in the Central Alliance was ended at 12 matches by a Notts County team that scored three minutes from time to earn a point. Notts played well and could have won but too often they tried one pass too many in promising situations. They were the better side early on and McGrath’s early shot flashed just wide. Town’s first effort of note was a Ken Ledger shot that Smith turned away for a corner but the home side continued to create openings. Future Ilkeston player Colin Guyler just failed to control a Watts cross with the goal at his mercy and a Barrowcliffe header was chested off the line by Dave Baker, a former Notts player. Ken Johnson had the ball in the Notts net but handled before doing so and the referee correctly disallowed it. Johnson then had a shot that Smith couldn’t hold but the ball was scrambled clear. However, Johnson’s perseverance paid off in the 38th minute when he latched onto a loose ball after Smith could only parry Baker’s free kick.

The second half was end to end. Bulch had a shot saved by Joe Sharman before Ilkeston scored a second on 50 minutes. Johnson appeared to handle again before firing in a low shot and this time the goal was given. Both goalkeepers were kept busy but Sharman could do nothing about Bulch’s header from a Guyler centre in the 55th minute. Ilkeston had the ball in the net again but the referee had already blown so that Notts ‘keeper Smith could have treatment for a head injury. He carried on bravely and made good saves from Ledger and Horace Hackland. Notts also attacked when they could in search of an equaliser and came close when a Cresswell free kick landed on the bar. They were finally rewarded on 87 minutes when, on the break, McGrath’s pass put Bulch in to score. Ilkeston tried in vain to force a last gasp winner.

CONTROVERSIAL COUNTY CUP WIN OVER CRESWELL
16TH JANUARY 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 4 CRESWELL COLLIERY 2 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP QUARTER FINAL AFTER EXTRA TIME)
Creswell lodged a complaint to the Derbyshire FA following their extra time defeat claiming that the match should have ended on 90 minutes and be replayed. The outcome was that no rule had been broken but in a game full of incident they also complained bitterly about Ilkeston’s equalising goal that took the tie into extra time. Creswell had been good value for the two goal lead they held until the 67th minute but there can be little doubt that Ilkeston’s stunning fight back made the home side worthy winners by the end. Jackie Ward’s header was saved by Wilson early on and then he just failed to turn in Dave Baker’s free kick as Ilkeston began brightly but Creswell looked extremely dangerous going forward. The visitors went ahead on 13 minutes when Beresford’s long ball found former Ilkeston winger Billy Wheatley who raced through from the right before calmly lobbing the ball over the advancing Joe Sharman. Beresford was a constant threat during the first half and Sharman saved Town from going further behind on more than one occasion. However, Town should have equalised before the break when Baker’s penalty, awarded after Ken Ledger was brought down by Hill, was fired straight at Wilson.

When Terry Blount was just off target and Wilson looking in good form Ilkeston began to show signs of anxiety as the second half developed. Ken Faulconbridge went close with a long range dipping shot but Creswell doubled their lead in the 58th minute. With Ilkeston committing men forward Galley’s through pass left them exposed and Ekin raced away to score. Town finally pulled a goal back on 67 minutes thanks to a perfect through ball by Faulconbridge that Ken Johnson tapped past Wilson. Then came the controversial equaliser six minutes later. Following a goalmouth scramble play continued for several seconds before the players realised that a goal had been awarded. It was given to Johnson and those in the 2500 crowd with a good view of the incident believed that it was an excellent decision by the referee but this did not prevent the Creswell players from making frantic appeals.

When the 90 minutes were up the Creswell players began to leave the pitch before the referee ordered them back to play extra time. Play was fierce during this period and the only two chances of note fell to Ilkeston and they took both of them. Ledger lofted the ball into the net after 92 minutes and Ilkeston made certain in the 107th minute with a lovely goal engineered by Ledger and John Commander, the former providing the final pass for Ward to score.

RESOLUTE TOWN WORTHY WINNERS
23RD JANUARY 1954
CRESWELL COLLIERY 1 ILKESTON TOWN 3
With their defence in outstanding form Ilkeston fought for a well earned victory. Superior and faster to the ball Town seemed to be making up for lost time when the match began 25 minutes late due to the late arrival of the referee. Horace Hackland’s powerful goalbound shot struck a defender and Dave Baker fired a low shot inches wide as Town attacked early on. They frequently were caught offside during the opening stages until they took a deserved 20th minute lead. A lovely move beginning with Ken Ledger’s flick and continued by Ken Johnson and Ken Faulconbridge ended with Jackie Ward nodding past Wilson. Creswell’s only chance of the first half fell to Beresford whose header was punched to safety by Joe Sharman. However, Ilkeston doubled their advantage two minutes before the break through a superb goal by Johnson. Wrong footing the defence by feinting to pass he fired into the roof of the net from 20 yards.

Town went three up in 49 minutes when Ledger’s cross was intercepted by Hill but his woeful backpass was latched onto by Ward for a simple finish. Creswell finally began to exert some pressure and they scored on 76 minutes through Beresford following a corner. This sparked Ilkeston back into life and only two brilliant saves from Wilson from Ward and Terry Blount prevented them from adding to the score.

COALVILLE CONQUERED AT A CANTER
30TH JANUARY 1954
COALVILLE TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 3
Ilkeston took no risks on a rock hard frozen Wagon & Horses ground but still won with plenty to spare in a strong icy wind. Joe Sharman was rarely called upon as Ilkeston did most of the attacking. The first opportunity fell to Jackie Ward but his header lacked sufficient power. Ken Ledger almost scored a freak goal when he burst down the wing to the by line and crossed. The ball, carried by the wind, came off the crossbar. After a few near misses Town went in front on 23 minutes when Ledger found Ken Faulconbridge who neatly set up Ward to score from close range. Despite their lack of punch Coalville came close to an equaliser before half time when Tooley’s shot deceived Sharman but struck the bar.

Dave Baker made an excellent clearance as Coalville briefly threatened after the interval. However, Town went further ahead in the 50th minute whilst Les Smith was off the pitch receiving treatment for a kick in the stomach. Terry Blount put Ward through and he scored at the second attempt. Ilkeston’s third came twelve minutes from time when Faulconbridge, with his back to goal, laid the ball off to Horace Hackland who crashed in a rising shot.

TOWN EXTEND LEAD
6TH FEBRUARY 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 4 GRANTHAM RESERVES 2
There was little difference between the two sides except that Ilkeston made the most of their chances. As a result they moved five points clear at the top of the Central Alliance. On a slippery surface Town were on top early on and Jackie Ward had a chance early on but he shot weakly wide. Donaldson beat George Darwin before shooting across the face of goal with Grantham’s first attack. Ilkeston took the lead within seconds of another visiting shot. Burdett’s rising effort was caught by Joe Sharman and his long clearance found Terry Blount who raced down the left. His low centre skidded across to Ward who was left with a simple finish. Schooley then made smart saves to deny Blount and Cliff Hughes before Sharman was tested by a Kent shot before Town stepped up the pressure before half time. Blount, put in the clear by Ken Johnson, just failed to round Schooley. Soon after Blount chased a long ball and, unable to stop on the slippery surface, collided with Schooley. In an act of sportsmanship Grantham’s Stillyard defended Blount when the referee had words. Staples had a long range effort saved by Sharman and Horace Hackland’s terrific volley flew over as half time approached.

Staples had another shot saved and Burdett shot into the side net as Grantham began the second half in a lively fashion. However, on 47 minutes, Ilkeston scored a second when Blount drove home from 18 yards after Schooley had beaten out a shot. Sharman made an acrobatic save before Town surged further ahead in the 59th minute. Johnson’s pass was completely miskicked by Ward but the ball ran on nicely to Blount who shot into the roof of the net. Two minutes later Grantham got the goal their play deserved when Puplett raced down the middle and shot beyond the advancing Sharman. The goal encouraged Grantham and when Sharman couldn’t hold Donaldson’s shot Les Smith cleared off the line. Donaldson’s misfortune continued when he headed against the post in the next attack. Suddenly, on 66 minutes, Ilkeston scored a fourth when Hughes’ perfect pass was lashed past Schooley by Ward. Grantham’s second came two minutes later when Burdett’s cross found Puplett in space and he nodded in.

HEANOR HUMBLED AS TOWN REACH FINAL
13TH FEBRUARY 1954
HEANOR ATHLETIC 0 ILKESTON TOWN 5 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP SEMI FINAL)
A sticky bog of a pitch was passed fit by the referee unlike the other semi final at Shirebrook. As a result a number of Belper supporters swelled the gate to 2500. Ilkeston began strongly. Jackie Ward fired just wide and Ken Johnson, Ward and Ken Ledger missed good openings before Heanor had a meaningful attack. When they did Bradbury tested Joe Sharman following a burst forward by future Town player Dennis Breedon. Johnson and Ledger both wasted chances when they only had Thornley to beat as Ilkeston continued to look dangerous but Heanor created two chances of their own. Dave Baker managed to halt Breedon when he looked set to score and Sharman produced a diving save to keep out a Dulson effort. Thornley made a smart save from Ledger in between. Ilkeston went ahead in the 34th minute when Ken Faulconbridge’s pass split open the defence and he ran on to meet Ledger’s return pass to fire past Thornley. From then on it was all Ilkeston. The second goal came five minutes later when Johnson beat two men and found Ledger whose cross was converted with a lovely shot on the turn by Faulconbridge.

Heanor grew frustrated during the second half and conceded a number of free kicks but they managed to hold out until the 73rd minute. After Ledger tricked Harrison but erred in shooting instead of passing to the unmarked Ward he made up for his lack of judgement by supplying the cross for his colleague to put away neatly. Four minutes later Ward’s speculative lob defeated the badly positioned Thornley for Ilkeston’s fourth and then he completed a twelve minute hat-trick when he made the most of Johnson’s perfect through ball.

CROSS CRUSHED
20TH FEBRUARY 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 5 CLAY CROSS MINERS WELFARE 0
Clay Cross were no match for rampant Ilkeston on the muddy Manor Ground. Town’s win extended their lead to seven points. Ken Ledger’s cross was almost converted by Ken Johnson early on and then a 20 yard drive by Ken Faulconbridge skimmed the bar so it was no surprise when Ilkeston went ahead in the tenth minute. Terry Blount’s cross was met by Jackie Ward who beat Holmes to score. In a rare Clay Cross attack Wragg forced Joe Sharman into a full length save before Town doubled their lead in the 23rd minute. A well worked move ended with Ward racing clear to score as the defenders stood appealing in vain for offside.

Early in the second half Holmes made a terrific full length save to deny Johnson but he was beaten by Faulconbridge’s 18 yard drive in the 51st minute after Ledger rolled the ball sideways from a free kick. On 65 minutes Dave Baker’s free kick was met by a close range Johnson header for the fourth. Town’s final goal came seven minutes later when Faulconbridge smashed Ledger’s pass past Holmes.

IMPROVED SECOND HALF SHOW WINS THE POINTS
27TH FEBRUARY 1954
LONG EATON TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 3
Long Eaton in their claret and blue were the better side during the first half but still found themselves a goal down at the break. Ilkeston improved during the second half and ended up worthy winners. The first chance fell to Ilkeston but Ken Johnson put the ball over from close range. They then began to look uncomfortable at the back as Long Eaton took the game to them. Les Smith’s miskick could have been costly but he recovered the situation marvellously. Bennett’s close range header was cleared by Ted Attwood and Attwood again came to the rescue by blocking Halford’s delayed shot. Then Coates had a shot on target that was almost turned into his own net by Smith. Yet, on 32 minutes, Ilkeston went ahead thanks to a defensive mistake. Harvey miskicked when he tried to cut out Johnson’s forward pass and Jackie Ward shot past Howitt. The edgy Harvey made a similar error a minute later but Radford saved the day by clearing Johnson’s shot off the line. Bennett broke clear just before half time and Ilkeston had to thank Smith for a great saving tackle.

Long Eaton began the second half well but Bennett was guilty of messing up a fine chance provided by former Ilkeston player Eddie Rogers. Rogers then had a low shot saved by Joe Sharman. Gradually Ilkeston took control and they scored their second in the 66th minute. Ward slipped the ball through to the onrushing Johnson who finished in style. Sharman had to dash off his line to clear from Poxon but Ilkeston remained in control. Ken Faulconbridge had a shot tipped over by Howitt before Ward got the third. His persistence won the ball from Radford in the area and he had the presence of mind to screw the ball in from an acute angle. Any hopes Long Eaton had of a consolation goal disappeared when Sharman parried Rogers’ shot and Poxon was too slow to reach the rebound.

MUDDY MARVELLOUS
6TH MARCH 1954
MATLOCK TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 10
Heavy snow earlier in the week followed by a quick thaw and heavy rain left the Matlock pitch virtually unplayable yet the referee decided to press ahead. This despite the fact that the pre-match toss up had to take place on the wing where the mud was slightly less deep. Matlock showed plenty of courage but were hopelessly outclassed by a rampant Ilkeston team. Ken Johnson went close to giving Ilkeston an early lead and Joe Sharman had to make a rare save after McCaig slipped past Les Smith to fire at goal. It was only a matter of time before Ilkeston were going to score and the first goal came on 16 minutes. Terry Blount’s high cross eluded everyone except Ken Faulconbridge who steered the ball to the unmarked Ken Ledger to power home a volley. Four minutes later Faulconbridge converted Ledger’s perfect cross. Faulconbridge then provided Jackie Ward with a goal in the 22nd minute, with Blount’s persistence paying dividends on 29 minutes as Town went four up. Ward added another three minutes later and Ledger scored the sixth on 39 minutes.

There was a period of respite for Matlock. After half time Leatherday missed a great chance for the home team and although Faulconbridge, with a brilliant solo run and shot that hit the post, almost put Ilkeston further ahead Matlock continued to have a go. Leatherday and Carter both tested Sharman with long range shots but both efforts lacked sufficient power. Ilkeston’s seventh came in the 61st minute when the unmarked Ledger made the most of Faulconbridge’s cross to complete his hat-trick. They scored again on 78 minutes when a neat move involving Johnson and Blount ended with the former’s splendid diving header. Faulconbridge scored again in the 83rd minute and Blount concluded the scoring three minutes from time. Matlock’s Williams was injured during the final minutes when he collided with a post in clearing a Johnson effort.

ILKESTON STEP UP A GEAR IN SECOND HALF
13TH MARCH 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 4 BELPER TOWN 0
The teams were fairly evenly matched during the first half but Ilkeston always looked superior in defence. Ilkeston gradually took control of the game and two late goals ensured a comfortable victory. A Dave Baker free kick was headed wide by Jackie Ward early on but honours were even until Ilkeston took the lead in the 26th minute. Horace Hackland punted a free kick from deep into the area and Terry Blount headed the ball over former Ilkeston ‘keeper Dick Pickering. Ward then went only inches wide with a splendid shot. Belper came close to an equaliser when former Town player Ken Clifton was first to a corner and Baker cleared off the line. Ilkeston continued to look the more likely to score, however. Ward saw a shot parried by Pickering and Ken Ledger, subject to some rough treatment by Butler, cracked the rebound against the post. Butler was lucky to stay on the pitch later in the game when the referee swiftly intervened before a serious incident with Faulconbridge could fully develop.

Pickering had a stroke of good fortune after half time when he misjudged Ward’s shot and the ball bounced off his heal to safety. But Belper’s luck ran out in the 63rd minute when the seemingly offside Ken Johnson kept going while everyone else stopped and walked round Pickering to score Ilkeston’s second. The third came on 83 minutes when after receiving a pass from Faulconbridge Johnson played a neat one-two with Ward before ramming the ball past Pickering. Two minutes from time Ledger outpaced the Belper defence and neatly lobbed Pickering for Ilkeston’s fourth.

SUTTON SURRENDER AFTER PROMISING START
20TH MARCH 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 5 SUTTON TOWN 0
Ilkeston overwhelmed Sutton on a quagmire following 18 hours of heavy rain. Yet they made life distinctly uncomfortable for Ilkeston for much of the first half before they collapsed under sustained pressure. Ilkeston increased the gap at the top of the table to ten points. Sutton began the game in lively fashion and Wheatley miskicked when presented with a golden opportunity. Ilkeston’s only effort during the opening stages was a snappy Jackie Ward header that was saved by Anderson. Joe Sharman, on the other hand, was by far the busier of the ‘keepers and he had to make hasty saves to deny Wheatley, Praksi and Buchannan. Ilkeston took the lead with a gift goal against the run of play in the 13th minute. John Commander broke forward and Ogden, trying to cut out the through pass, slipped and allowed Ward to fire into the net. Fox then almost scored an own goal in attempting to clear from Ward and Anderson had to be at his best to keep out Ken Faulconbridge as Ilkeston began to take control. Wheatley came close to restoring parity but his shot flew over the bar. Anderson made two further good saves before the break, the first when he tipped away Ken Ledger’s 20 yard volley, the second when he stopped Horace Hackland’s 30 yard strike.

Ward should have scored soon after half time when he messed up an opportunity created by Terry Blount’s cross. The second goal finally came on 58 minutes when Fox turned Johnson’s shot into his own goal. Two minutes later Anderson saved at Ward’s feet and Ken Johnson pounced on the loose ball to make it three. A third goal in seven minutes arrived at a time when Ilkeston only had nine men on the pitch due to Dave Baker and Faulconbridge receiving treatment. Ledger ran half the length of the pitch before firing in a shot that Anderson somehow allowed to slip through his fingers. Ilkeston were hungry for more goals. Fox cleared a Johnson shot off the line and Blount was too hasty with his shot after Johnson put him through. They scored the fifth two minutes from time thanks to a dubious penalty award. Blount’s cross found Ward who took too long to get in a shot and was subsequently tackled, illegally as far as the referee was concerned. Ted Attwood scored from the spot.

SHARMAN BEATEN BUT TOWN MOVE CLOSER
27TH MARCH 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 1 NOTTINGHAM FOREST ‘A’ 1
Joe Sharman conceded his first goal in 584 minutes but Ilkeston came back to earn a deserved point with a much improved second half display. Town were the happier of the two teams at the end because their nearest rivals had to win to stand any realistic chance of overhauling them. As it was Ilkeston retained their ten point advantage over Forest. Ilkeston made more defensive errors than they had done for some time during the first half but Forest failed to take full advantage. DeGrouchy had a shot clawed away by Sharman early on while Jackie Ward’s hurried shot, saved by Farmer, was Town’s first effort of note. Forest finally breached Ilkeston’s rearguard with a goal littered with defensive mistakes. Ted Attwood’s misplaced pass went straight to Good but he didn’t make the most of a good position by playing the ball backwards. Forest retained possession but only because Dave Baker completely miskicked and allowed the ball to reach Good. The Forest man found DeGrouchy who deceived Attwood and sent over a cross that Sharman completely missed. The totally unmarked Barclay was able to nod into a gaping goal in the 22nd minute. Ilkeston continued to look shaky at the back but Forest were unable to capitalise. Indeed the closest to another goal before half time came when Ward’s poweful shot brought a save from Farmer in the Forest goal.

The visitors were penned back for long periods after the break. Terry Blount shot wide under pressure from Banham, Ken Johnson’s shot was deflected wide by the same defender, Ken Ledger’s shot was just off target and John Commander’s long range strike forced Farmer into a fingertip save. Ilkeston’s equaliser duly arrived on 65 minutes. Ken Faulconbridge, bursting into the area, was sandwiched and the referee, after consulting the linesman, awarded a penalty amid angry protests. Baker made no mistake from the spot. The goal added greater urgency to Forest’s play and Holder, firstly with a shot that brought a spectacular save from Sharman and then with another that rattled the bar, came desperately close to scoring. But a winning goal almost came Ilkeston’s way in the last minute when Horace Hackland shot inches over.

LISTLESS AT LINBY
3RD APRIL 1954
LINBY COLLIERY 0 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Ilkeston were far from their best and at times looked lethargic but Linby lacked the forward power to win the game. Town just about deserved the victory but could well have lost against a better team. Former Town player Geoff Jones had a good opportunity early in the game but he took too long to get in a decent shot and John Commander was able to take the sting out of it. At the other end Ken Ledger’s shot was well saved by Pugh and Jackie Ward’s header just cleared the bar. Joe Sharman made a brave save at Jones’ feet and Linby’s defence also showed bravery in charging down shots from Terry Blount and Ken Johnson before half time.

After Ledger sliced a chance wide Ilkeston scored the winner on 52 minutes. Ledger’s free kick found Johnson who shot home, Ken Faulconbridge getting a touch to the ball after it had already crossed the line. Ilkeston began to look more hungry and a Ledger shot crashed into Pugh’s chest before Ward shot over from 6 yards. Johnson missed an even better chance when he failed to hit the target from 4 yards and Town would have rued that miss if Sharman hadn’t stopped Jones’ fierce drive at the other end. Johnson was denied again late on by a smart save from Pugh.

FIREWORKS AT GRANTHAM
5TH APRIL 1954
GRANTHAM RESERVES 0 ILKESTON TOWN 4
During the game Grantham ‘keeper Waller managed to burst the ball whilst effecting a clearance. The ball exploded like a firework. There were plenty more fireworks on display as Ilkeston completely outclassed the home side who lay in third place and but for some indifferent finishing they could have scored ten. The win took Ilkeston a massive 13 points clear at the top. Grantham’s cause was not helped by the departure of Stillyard, injured in a collision with one of his own players in the 2nd minute, and he wasn’t able to resume until the second half. Joe Sharman also left the field for treatment during the game and this gave John Commander a three minute stint in the Ilkeston goal. Grantham ought to have taken the lead during the opening minutes when Burdett missed an open goal but Ilkeston quickly got into their stride. Commander pushed forward a delightful through ball to Jackie Ward who slipped the ball past Waller to give Town a 17th minute lead. Good work by Ken Faulconbridge and Ken Ledger set up Terry Blount for a simple goal twelve minutes later.

Constant Ilkeston pressure after half time was rewarded with a third goal on 61 minutes thanks to a Blount header. Barnet, in a rare Grantham attack, shot across the face of goal before Ilkeston scored again through Ken Johnson in the 78th minute. Four minutes later he left the pitch through injury and he was forced to sit out the next match.

BEATEN AT BELPER
10TH APRIL 1954
BELPER TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 0
Ilkeston’s brilliant unbeaten run in the Central Alliance, dating back to September 19th, came to an end after 22 wins and 2 draws. Belper deserved their win because of a fine first half performance and sheer determination after the break. The Nailers came close to scoring when Dave Baker got his head in the way of a shot by Slack who then fired the rebound over. Ken Rawson (who later managed Ilkeston) sent a free kick wide but it was he who scored the winner on 21 minutes. Joe Sharman failed to gather Baker’s poor backpass and Rawson was left with a simple tap in. Belper ‘keeper McCulloch almost gifted Ilkeston an equaliser when he dropped the ball but he recovered just in time to prevent Jackie Ward from scoring. Ilkeston came even closer to a goal when Ken Faulconbridge’s header came back off the post.

The play was more even after the break as Ilkeston tried to find a way back but the only real chance fell to Ward who took too long to get in a shot enabling McCulloch to save. Ilkeston grew more desperate as the game went on and they failed to break down a resolute Belper defence.

SHIREBROOK SHOCK
16TH APRIL 1954
SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE 1 ILKESTON TOWN 0 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP FINAL @ BASEBALL GROUND)
Shirebrook beat clear favourites Ilkeston in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final in front of a 5601 gate at Derby. The winners gave their all, closed down quickly, and were swift in the tackle. Ilkeston, on the other hand, missed a catalog of chances but in reality their forward play lacked guile and smacked of desperation, particularly as the game wore on. Shirebrook made life difficult from the word go and took the lead on 24 minutes just as Ilkeston were beginning to take the upper hand. A high centre by Smith found Sansom who steered the ball out of Joe Sharman’s reach. Ilkeston retaliated and there is no doubt they had some bad luck. Horace Hackland’s shot was screaming in until it struck Ken Johnson and flew over the bar. Then a Hackland free kick was cleared in the nick of time by Taylor’s boot before Jackie Ward’s header was caught by Hunt. A Dave Baker free kick was sent towards the Shirebrook goal by Johnson but a multitude of defenders somehow managed to keep the ball out.

Ilkeston continued to press after the break. Hunt saved made a straightforward save from Ken Ledger but his next stop from Johnson was of the highest order. Ledger’s corner was cleared off the line before Joe Sharman made a fine save from Wright during a rare Shirebrook attack. Ilkeston threw everything at Shirebrook during the closing stages but the equaliser would not come. Terry Blount had a shot tipped over by Hunt and then Ward fired straight at the outstanding ‘keeper. Ward, Blount and Ledger all had shots charged down and then a clear handball in the area by a Shirebrook defender wasn’t spotted by the referee. With Ilkeston’s last throw of the dice Johnson’s header was almost turned by Walters into his own net. But Shirebrook held on and they deserved their win if only through sheer courage.

TOWN CLAIM HAT-TRICK OF TITLES
17TH APRIL 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 2 LONG EATON TOWN 1
Dave Baker’s late penalty ensured that Ilkeston won the Central Alliance for the third year running. After the disappointment of losing in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final the day before Ilkeston players were tired and far from their best but showed terrific character. Nevertheless Long Eaton gave them the runaround for most of the game. All the best openings of the first half came Long Eaton’s way. Gosling was too hasty with a shot and missed the target, former Ilkeston player Eddie Rogers forced Joe Sharman into conceding a corner, Ted Attwood resorted to handling the ball when Gosling attempted to break clear, and Sharman produced a brilliant save from Weston after an Attwood mistake.

It did not come as a surprise when Rogers put Long Eaton into the lead in the 53rd minute but from then on Ilkeston dug deep. They equalised ten minutes later when Ken Johnson’s shot was turned into his own net by Coates. The visitors continued to push Ilkeston all the way and Town had Attwood to thank with a decisive clearance when Sharman was stranded out of his goal. The all important goal arrived in the 83rd minute and was the result of a highly dubious penalty award. Jackie Ward had broken clear but inexplicably and suddenly slowed down as he entered the area resulting in the pursuing Bennett running into his back. The referee pointed to the spot and Long Eaton players argued to no avail. Baker held his nerve and made no mistake. Minutes later Ilkeston were crowned champions again.

CHAMPIONS TAKE IT EASY
19TH APRIL 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 2 COALVILLE TOWN 0
After a hectic few days and with the title in the bag Ilkeston understandably took it easy against the bottom club. As a result the game was a poor one although Ilkeston were still too strong for their opponents. The opening goal came in the 4th minute when Ken Ledger’s cross found Alwyn Booth who beat two men before scoring. Seconds later Booth almost scored again but for the remainder of the game Ilkeston found it hard going against Coalville’s well worked offside trap. The only other effort of note during the first half was Ken Faulconbridge’s rising long range shot that was saved by Parsons.

Parsons was called into action again in the second half when he somehow blocked Jackie Ward’s shot from two yards. He was quick off his line to deny Ledger later in the half. Joe Sharman, who had hardly anything to do, was in similar action at the other end when Brotherhood outpaced George Darwin. Ilkeston made the game safe when Booth nodded Faulconbridge’s forward pass to Horace Hackland who scored with a close range header.

RETFORD ON THE ROPES
24TH APRIL 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 6 RETFORD BRITISH ROPES 0
Although Ilkeston were a little too casual at times they were still able to win emphatically against a poor Ropes side. The visitors gave Ilkeston some thinking to do early on but squandered two chances. Both fell to Wharton. He took too long to get a shot in and allowed Joe Sharman to clear and then he shot wide from three yards. From then on Ilkeston were in command. Jackie Ward headed narrowly wide, Terry Blount crashed a shot against the post, Ken Johnson went through but overran the ball, Ward had a good effort saved by Taylor, and Horace Hackland’s well struck shot flew over. The goal that had been coming arrived in the 15th minute. Brilliant play by Ken Faulconbridge set up Ward who simply walked the ball into the net. Town’s second arrived within a minute. Taylor couldn’t hold Cliff Hughes’ high cross and Blount volleyed in from close range. Taylor was kept busy but he was beaten again on 34 minutes when good play between Johnson and Faulconbridge provided the chance for Ward to bang home. Johnson made it four in the 38th minute with a shot in off the post.

Retford were down to ten men for the second half following a leg injury to Ellis. Ilkeston were thus able to stroll after the interval and still add more goals. Ward completed his hat-trick on the hour with a header from Blount’s cross. After Faulconbridge and Blount both struck the woodwork Johnson sealed the victory with a 30 yard shot in the last minute.

TOWN GAIN REVENGE
29TH APRIL 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 7 SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE 0
With the defeat in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final still fresh in their minds Ilkeston went to town on a Shirebrook side who rarely got a look in. After Terry Blount passed up an early chance by dallying too long Ilkeston went ahead in the 10th minute. John Commander’s pass released Blount who broke down the left and crossed for Ken Ledger to score. Shirebrook had ‘keeper Hunt for keeping the score down and they also defended with character. Ledger, Ken Johnson and Ken Faulconbridge each had shots charged down before Jackie Ward scored at the second attempt following Blount’s 30th minute corner. Ward had a great chance to score again when he pounced onto Faulconbridge’s through ball but he shot straight at Hunt. However, there was still time for Horace Hackland to make it three before half time with a powerful shot from 25 yards into the roof of the net.

Ilkeston went further ahead in the 50th minute when Ward beat two defenders on the right and crossed to Johnson who nodded in. The next goal came when Ward ventured onto the opposite flank and his astute pass provided Johnson with the chance. Ilkeston’s sixth came on 63 minutes when Hackland broke up a Shirebrook attack, passed to Faulconbridge who then supplied Blount and his cross was converted by Ward. Ward’s hat-trick goal came in the 78th minute when his high lob defeated Hunt who was distracted by the presence of Johnson.

CHAMPS END SEASON WITH WIN
1ST MAY 1954
ILKESTON TOWN 4 SOUTH NORMANTON MINERS WELFARE 1
Both teams went through the motions, especially during the last half hour when Town were comfortably ahead and the visiting ‘keeper was injured in a collision with Ken Faulconbridge. South Normanton were easily the better side early in the game and took a deserved lead in the 8th minute when Morgan shot past the unsighted Joe Sharman. Earlier the visitors had gone close twice but on both occasions Sharman was equal to Berry who had eluded Ted Attwood. The goal woke Ilkeston up and constant attacking led to the 37th minute equaliser, Ken Johnson forcing his way through the defence to score. Seconds later Ilkeston took the lead when Faulconbridge’s drive knocked Hickman off his feet and he pounced to score from the rebound. Ilkeston’s third came a minute before half time when Faulconbridge brilliantly put Jackie Ward in the clear to coolly lob Hickman. Even though Ilkeston played with only ten men during the second half due to a foot injury sustained by Dave Baker they continued to dominate. Horace Hackland shot against the bar and Ward likewise against the post before the fourth goal arrived in the 54th minute. Faulconbridge picked out Terry Blount who made no mistake.