1956/57 CENTRAL ALLIANCE FIRST DIVISION (SOUTH) FINAL TABLE
|2||Long Eaton United||30||19||6||5||78||57||44|
|9||Kettering Town Reserves||30||12||6||12||74||61||30|
|11||Derby County 'A'||30||10||4||16||45||48||24|
|12||Notts County 'A'||30||9||4||17||64||98||22|
|13||Brush Sports Reserves||30||9||2||19||59||93||20|
|15||Corby Town Reserves||30||7||2||21||52||79||16|
1956/57 CENTRAL ALLIANCE RESULTS
|25 AUG||Rushden Town||D1-1||MARSH|
|08 SEP||POTTON UNITED||W5-0||MARSH 4, BLOUNT|
|22 SEP||ANSTEY NOMADS||W3-0||MARSH, DISNEY, BAKER (PEN)|
|29 SEP||Potton United||W5-0||DISNEY, MARSH, HACKLAND, BAKER (PEN), FAULCONBRIDGE|
|13 OCT||Corby Town Reserves||W1-0||BLOUNT|
|24 NOV||Notts County 'A'||W8-1||MARSH 2, FAULCONBRIDGE, NOON (OG), JOHNSON 2, BAKER (PEN), BLOUNT|
|01 DEC||Wellingborough Town||W2-1||B.HOPKINS, C.HOPKINS|
|08 DEC||Brush Sports Reserves||W6-2||B.HOPKINS 2, JOHNSON 2, MARSH 2|
|15 DEC||RUSHDEN TOWN||L1-2||BAKER|
|22 DEC||STAMFORD||W5-2||MARSH 2, BLOUNT, DISNEY, LEDGER|
|25 DEC||Long Eaton United||L1-2||MARSH|
|29 DEC||ST NEOTS||W2-0||FAULCONBRIDGE, MARSH|
|05 JAN||Kettering Town Reserves||W1-0||DISNEY|
|19 JAN||LONG EATON UNITED||W3-1||HACKLAND, FAULCONBRIDGE, JOHNSON|
|02 FEB||WELLINGBOROUGH TOWN||W5-1||LEDGER, C.HOPKINS, BAKER (PEN), HACKLAND, BLOUNT|
|09 FEB||CORBY TOWN RESERVES||W5-0||C.HOPKINS 2, DISNEY 2, JOHNSON|
|16 FEB||Rothwell Town||W1-0||DISNEY|
|09 MAR||Anstey Nomads||W2-0||C.HOPKINS, CLARKE|
|16 MAR||NOTTS COUNTY 'A'||L1-2||BAKER (PEN)|
|23 MAR||SKEGNESS TOWN||L0-2|
|30 MAR||GRANTHAM RESERVES||D1-1||BLOUNT|
|06 APR||BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES||W3-0||WALTERS, BRADWELL, BAKER (PEN)|
|11 APR||Grantham Reserves||L1-2||WALTERS|
|13 APR||Derby County 'A'||W1-0||DISNEY|
|20 APR||DERBY COUNTY 'A'||W3-1||C.HOPKINS 2, BAKER (PEN)|
|22 APR||Skegness Town||L1-3||2800||DISNEY|
|24 APR||ROTHWELL TOWN||W1-0||WALTERS|
|27 APR||St Neots||L1-5||BOOTH|
|04 MAY||KETTERING TOWN RESERVES||D1-1||HACKLAND|
1956/57 FA CUP RESULTS
|2QR||06 OCT||BOOTS ATHLETIC||W2-0||1500||COMMANDER, MARSH|
|3QR||20 OCT||Clay Cross Miners Welfare||W8-1||C.HOPKINS 4, FAULCONBRIDGE, JOHNSON 2, BLOUNT|
|4QR||03 NOV||SUTTON TOWN||D2-2||4909||HACKLAND, BAKER|
|4QRrep||07 NOV||Sutton Town||W2-1aet||BAKER, BREEDON|
|1R||17 NOV||BLYTH SPARTANS||L1-5||6102||MARSH|
1956/57 DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP RESULTS
|2R||12 JAN||HEANOR TOWN||W1-0||4175||JOHNSON|
|QF||02 MAR||SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE||L0-2|
1956/57 CENTRAL ALLIANCE LEAGUE CUP RESULTS
|1R1L||01 SEP||SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE||W3-0||JOHNSON 2, BLOUNT|
|1R2L||15 SEP||Shirebrook Miners Welfare||L2-3||DISNEY, BLOUNT|
|2R||27 OCT||Matlock Town||W2-1||FAULCONBRIDGE, JOHNSON|
|QF||26 JAN||Rothwell Town||L1-3||DISNEY|
ILKESTON HOLD ON FOR POINT
25TH AUGUST 1956
RUSHDEN TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Tough fighting Rushden pushed Ilkeston all the way but resolute defending ensured that Town returned home with a point. It was ironic that a defensive error led to Rushden’s 76th minute equaliser. Dave Baker misplaced a backpass, ‘keeper Dennis Knibbs missed his kick in attempting to clear and Russell was left with a simple finish. This spurred the home side on although Ilkeston could have sneaked a late winner if Billy Morris had not shot with his weaker foot. Ilkeston began promisingly when Brian Hopkins tested Draper with a low shot but with their final pass frequently going astray Knibbs was quickly the busier of the two goalkeepers. He did well to tip Inwood’s shot over the bar. Out of the blue Ilkeston took the lead on 39 minutes through Jack Marsh. His first attempt struck the post but he made no mistake from the rebound. The goal gave Town a boost and it needed a good save from Draper to keep out Terry Blount’s cross shot before half time.
The second half saw Ilkeston on top during the opening exchanges and Morris, Ken Faulconbridge, Marsh and Blount each had shots off target. Rushden also attacked well on the break although Ilkeston looked to be in control until the equaliser.
TOWN LOOKING GOOD FOR CUP PROGRESS
1ST SEPTEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 3 SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE 0 (LEAGUE CUP FIRST ROUND FIRST LEG)
Ilkeston were always in control of this tie and would have won by a bigger margin had they taken their chances. Tom Cooper was first to show when he burst through to test Trolley with a rising shot. John Commander and Brian Hopkins both shot wide, Ken Faulconbridge had a shot beaten away by Trolley and Taylor cleared off the line under pressure from Jack Marsh as Ilkeston maintained their impetus. Trolley made further saves from Ken Johnson, Faulconbridge and Hopkins, and this led to renewed Shirebrook confidence. The visitors’ spell of pressure before half time led to Dennis Knibbs making good saves from Lack and Marron.
Ilkeston scored the goal their overall play deserved in the 48th minute when Johnson took advantage of a loose ball and ran through to give them the lead. Shirebrook retalliated briefly as Eaton and Marron had shots saved by Knibbs but the boost of the goal inspired Town to further attacks. After Trolley saved shots from Johnson and Faulconbridge he could do little about Town’s route one second goal on 57 minutes. Knibbs’ clearance found Marsh who sent Johnson away to score. Shirebrook’s last chance fell to Lack who shot hopelessly wide with only Knibbs to beat and this left Ilkeston with the opportunity to kill the game off. On 68 minutes following a goalmouth scramble Johnson knocked the ball to Terry Blount who made no mistake.
MARSH HITS FOUR AS UNITED GO TO POT
8TH SEPTEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 5 POTTON UNITED 0
Potton United played pretty football but their ponderous style was easily counteracted by Ilkeston’s more positive approach. Town, for whom Horace Hackland was making his 250th appearance, took the lead after just 2 minutes when Brian Hopkins’ crossfield pass to Terry Blount was controlled and crossed for Jack Marsh to head home. Ilkeston were left frustrated by their failure to add further goals during the first half. Humberston made some good saves but Hopkins really should have scored just before the break when he rounded the ‘keeper but shot wide of the gaping net.
Town dominated after half time and took the lead in the 55th minute through Marsh. Dennis Knibbs made his only save of the afternoon shortly after when he denied Evans and when Ken Faulconbridge fired in a low shot across goal on 63 minutes Blount turned the ball in for the third. Jack Marsh completed his hat-trick three minutes later and he added another ten minutes from time. Ilkeston could easily have added more goals during the second half. John Commander twice shot inches wide and he also struck the woodwork on two occasions whilst Hopkins shot into the side net as well as hitting the post.
TOWN NEARLY LET IT SLIP
15TH SEPTEMBER 1956
SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE 3 ILKESTON TOWN 2 (LEAGUE CUP FIRST ROUND SECOND LEG - ILKESTON WON 5-3 ON AGGREGATE)
When Ilkeston took a 29th minute lead through a Les Disney goal to make it 4-0 on aggregate they seemed home and dry. But complacency set in and after surviving a barrage of Shirebrook attacks before half time they conceded within two minutes of the restart when Lack’s shot deflected off Dave Baker’s head and beyond Dennis Knibbs. Complacency turned to panic four minutes later when Knibbs lost self control after claiming the ball during a goalmouth scramble. His elbow connected with Marron and the referee awarded a penalty that was duly despatched by Holmes. When Marron scored in the 64th minute after Lack’s centre deflected off Baker it appeared as if Town had pressed the self destruct button. Somehow Ilkeston survived the constant pressure and they stunned the home side with just three minutes to go when Terry Blount raced on to a huge Horace Hackland and scored despite frantic offside appeals.
The referee arrived late for the game causing one of the linesmen to take control of the game for the first 12 minutes. Ilkeston began the game well although Shirebrook came close to opening the scoring when Baker’s attempted clearance struck Davies and almost rebounded past Knibbs. Ken Faulconbridge’s snap shot was saved by Trolley as Ilkeston continued to impress before Disney had given them the lead.
EASY AGAINST ANSTEY
22ND SEPTEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 3 ANSTEY NOMADS 0
Ilkeston won easily enough without playing particularly well against weak, aimless opposition. Town created countless chances and should have put the match well beyond Anstey’s reach well before they did. Anstey’s only chance fell inside the first five minutes when Capel shot straight at Dennis Knibbs and the ball flew off the ‘keeper’s face and out for a corner. Ilkeston took the lead in the 6th minute after Les Disney’s pass found Terry Blount and Jack Marsh applied the finishing touch to the resultant cross. Later in the first half Marsh crashed another Blount cross against the bar. Spencer then put the ball into Ilkeston’s net but he was clearly offside.
Ken Faulconbridge went close as Ilkeston had to wait until the 55th minute before doubling their lead. Marsh’s shot struck Tattersall and ran loose to Disney who made no mistake. Twenty minutes later Dave Baker completed the scoring when he drove a penalty awarded for handball past Tattersall.
ROTTEN POTTON NO MATCH
29TH SEPTEMBER 1956
POTTON UNITED 0 ILKESTON TOWN 5
It wasn’t hard to see why Potton were bottom of the table without a point and but for a good display by ‘keeper Humberstone Ilkeston would have won by a much bigger margin. The Ilkeston team arrived late and Potton probably wished they hadn’t arrived at all, much like the referee. His absence was covered by one of the linesmen. Potton’s cause was not helped when they were reduced to ten men after ten minutes when Soloview received an eye injury. Ilkeston were soon in control. After John Commander shot wide and Humberstone made a full length save to keep out Jack Marsh’s shot they went ahead on 22 minutes. Les Disney ran down the right past Hutchinson, cut inside and finished beautifully. Humberstone managed to deflect another Disney effort wide and Ken Faulconbridge fired in several shots before Town went further ahead in the 31st minute when Disney’s high centre was nodded in by Marsh. Ilkeston thought they should have been awarded a penalty when Charlie Place was hauled down but they scored again anyway minutes later. Faulconbridge’s perfect lay off to Horace Hackland brought the 40th minute third goal.
The referee made up for his earlier error when he correctly awarded a penalty after 52 minutes after Tom Cooper was brought down. Dave Baker made no mistake from the spot. Ilkeston’s fifth arrived twelve minutes later when Marsh sent Disney away and his centre was steered in by Faulconbridge.
UNCONVINCING TOWN PROGRESS IN CUP
6TH OCTOBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 2 BOOTS ATHLETIC 0 (FA CUP SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND)
Ilkeston struggled to get past a quick and enthusiastic Boots side. Fortunately the visitors rarely worked any clear openings whilst Ilkeston huffed and puffed to no great effect in what was a frustrating game for the 1500 crowd. Town enjoyed most of the possession and went in front on 25 minutes when John Commander, making his 200th appearance, stabbed home after the ball bounced to him off Henley. Soon after that setback Boots had further misfortune when Walker left the pitch for fifteen minutes with an injured knee and returned with a limp for the remainder of the game. Jack Marsh’s header almost provided a second goal before half time as Henley cleared off the line. Doleman came closest to scoring for Boots just before half time when he shot into the side net.
Ken Faulconbridge was also in the wars. He was kicked in the face and needed to be rushed to hospital for a stitch above his left eye. When he returned after a 25 minute absence he tested Cliff from long range. Cliff saved it but he failed to get a hand to a Marsh cross shot that gave Town their second. The busy Boots ‘keeper did well to keep out a Charlie Place effort before the end.
TOWN COME OUT ON TOP AT CORBY
13TH OCTOBER 1956
CORBY TOWN RESERVES 0 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Corby proved to be tough opponents in a game played at terrific pace. The home side were slightly on top during the first half hour but Ilkeston, boosted by their 32nd minute goal, grew stronger as the game went on. Corby’s early attacks saw Agnew’s shot on the turn fly just wide and then he had a similar effort smartly saved by the impressive Dennis Knibbs. The best effort Ilkeston managed early on was a Tommy Cooper free kick that just cleared the bar although they came closer to scoring when a Ken Ledger shot was deflected by Baird and Paterson did well to smother the ball. Town took the lead when Les Disney controlled a Dave Baker clearance, cleverly drew the defence and released Terry Blount who beat Croy for pace before scoring with a low shot.
Ilkeston enjoyed much more of the ball after the break yet failed to score due to some stubborn Corby defending. Colin Hopkins did put the ball in the net but his goal was disallowed for a foul on Ward.
COLIN CRUSHES CROSS
20TH OCTOBER 1956
CLAY CROSS MINERS WELFARE 1 ILKESTON TOWN 8 (FA CUP THIRD QUALIFYING ROUND)
Colin Hopkins cracked four goals as rampant Ilkeston hit peak form against their North Derbyshire rivals in the FA Cup. It was a measure of Town’s performance that Clay Cross played well but they were simply no match. Ilkeston started with just ten men due to the late arrival of Les Smith and by the time he took to the pitch in the tenth minute they were already ahead. Hopkins collected a Dave Baker clearance, made a spectacular burst past Fellows and scored with a hard low shot past C.Holmes on 4 minutes. Dennis Knibbs did well to tip over a well struck shot by White when Clay Cross threatened before Town made it two. Hopkins eluded Fellows and sent Terry Blount away who in turn fed Ken Faulconbridge to finish. Knibbs was called into action again when he saved from Cann but it was Ilkeston who scored again before half time. Ken Johnson and Blount combined well to set up Hopkins for his second.
A defensive blunder seconds after the restart enabled Johnson to score Town’s fourth. The home side refused to give up and K.Holmes had a shot that sailed harmlessly over. Soon afterwards Hopkins completed his hat-trick following a Blount cross. Knibbs made good saves from Cann and Millward as the home side looked for a consolation yet it was Ilkeston again who scored the next goal when Blount converted Ken Ledger’s centre. Another Ledger cross enabled Hopkins to score his fourth and Town’s seventh. At last Clay Cross scored the goal their play deserved. White and Heardman combined well on the left to set up Cann who slipped the ball through a crowd of players but there was still time for Johnson to score an eighth for Ilkeston.
COOL AND COMFORTABLE
27TH OCTOBER 1956
MATLOCK TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 2 (LEAGUE CUP SECOND ROUND)
Ilkeston won more comfortably than the score suggests. Their cool, determined display overcame a Matlock side that played with pace but lacked accuracy. Ilkeston almost went ahead early on with a Colin Hopkins header but they didn’t have to wait much longer. Ken Johnson’s deep corner was nodded back by Ken Ledger to Ken Faulconbridge who headed past Briggs on 10 minutes. It was something of a surprise when Matlock levelled within three minutes. Mortimer’s shot was blocked and the ball fell nicely to Bond who slammed it past the wrong footed Dennis Knibbs. The home side took great encouragement from their good fortune. Knibbs made several good saves and Alf Manship (later an Ilkeston player) twice hit the bar. The most clear cut chance before half time came Ilkeston’s way, however, but Hopkins shot just wide after forcing his way through the defence. Knibbs made another save, from Bond as half time approached.
Ilkeston improved greatly after the break and the spectacular winner arrived in the 50th minute, Ken Johnson crashing a shot from an improbable angle in off the post. Town had a chance to make it three when Hopkins was brought down by Jessop but Dave Baker’s penalty was saved at the second attempt by Briggs. Ilkeston continued to press and Briggs made another good save from Ken Ledger, Hopkins fired into the side net and then he saw a header flash just wide.
HERO BAKER SAVES THE DAY
3RD NOVEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 2 SUTTON TOWN 2 (FA CUP FOURTH QUALFYING ROUND)
Sutton Town, unbeaten in the Central Alliance Division One North, were within thirty seconds of booking their place in the FA Cup First Round when Dave Baker powered home a header to send the tie to a replay. Ilkeston managed their equaliser despite Ken Johnson being reduced to the role of passenger due to an injury sustained during the game. The new Football Queen, Miss Sheila Ritchie, was amongst the 4909 crowd who were thrilled by Sutton’s fast open play and dismayed by Ilkeston’s catalog of missed chances. A sliced backpass by future Ilkeston player Colin Guyler forced Pugh into an smart save as Ilkeston failed to make the most of their early pressure. Their slow, methodical but accurate approach was in contrast to Sutton’s more direct style but it almost paid dividends when Horace Hackland had a shot saved and then he fired against the bar. Sutton’s best chance during the opening stages fell to Robinson who headed over an Ernie Williamson (future Town player) cross. They came even closer to taking the lead with a Smith shot that rattled the post and Dennis Knibbs excelled in turning away Praksi’s shot from the rebound. Pugh then made a full length save to deny Colin Hopkins whilst Terry Blount twice chose to go it alone when a cross would have been a better option. As half time approached Sutton went ahead against the run of play and it was a former Ilkeston player, Geoff Jones, who got it. He took advantage of a mistake by Ken Johnson, sent the defence the wrong way, and scored with a beautiful shot in the 44th minute.
Sutton started the second half with renewed confidence. Williamson lobbed over from a good position and then fired wide. However, Ilkeston equalised out of the blue when Ken Faulconbridge lobbed a hopeful ball into the box and Hackland pounced as it ran free. Any hopes Ilkeston had of going on to win the game were destroyed when Williamson escaped Les Smith’s tight marking and lobbed the ball over Knibbs to give Sutton the lead. Ilkeston threw everything forward and it looked as if time was going to run out before Baker’s late header.
LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN
7TH NOVEMBER 1956
SUTTON TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 2 (FA CUP FOURTH QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY)
Dave Baker, on his 150th appearance, was Ilkeston’s hero again with a crucial equaliser after they somehow weathered a first half onslaught from the home side. Sutton’s only reward for their bombardment of Dennis Knibbs’ goal came on 12 minutes when a high cross eluded Ilkeston’s defence and fell to Praksi who tapped the ball beyond the off balance ‘keeper.
Baker’s 56th minute equaliser was as good a goal as you could hope to see. He won the ball well inside his own half, ran forward, and then unleashed an unstoppable 35 yard drive into the top left hand corner of the net. The goal changed the whole picture of the game and suddenly it was Sutton’s turn to defend desperately. They managed to hold out until full time but there was to be no respite in extra time. Ilkeston scored a deserved winner with 11 minutes remaining. Ken Faulconbridge played in Dennis Breedon who hesitated, thinking that he may have been offside, before blazing a shot past Pugh. The win put Ilkeston into the FA Cup First Round for the second time in their history.
STALEMATE AT STAMFORD
10TH NOVEMBER 1956
STAMFORD 0 ILKESTON TOWN 0
Town played as if they had won eye on the following week’s FA Cup tie in a game played in heavy rain. Defences were on top for the most part although Ilkeston bossed much of the first half. Colin Hopkins’ early header was cleared off the line by Clarke as they seized the initiative. Stamford gradually found their feet as the half progressed and Evans shot wide as he broke through. Dennis Knibbs did well to save a Wilkinson shot, Stenhouse struck the bar and Wilkinson shot wide as Stamford continued to attack. Although Ken Faulconbridge had a good effort at the other end the Stamford attack remained a threat and Knibbs was forced into smart saves from Sperring and a Wands free kick. When he was beaten, Tom Cooper was on hand to breast the ball off the line.
The second half lacked incident with most of the play condensed into midfield.
BLYTH SPIRIT TOO GREAT FOR SUBDUED TOWN
17TH NOVEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 1 BLYTH SPARTANS 5 (FA CUP FIRST ROUND)
Ilkeston surprisingly lacked heart, disappointed the 6102 crowd, and were well beaten by a Blyth side that played hard and fast. The visitors were given too much room and respect whilst Town played nothing like their best. Even the four leafed clovers placed inside their boots by Ken Johnson’s wife before kick off failed to have the desired effect upon the Ilkeston players. An important factor in Ilkeston’s defeat occurred when ‘keeper Dennis Knibbs injured his shoulder as Blyth scored the first goal during a sensational opening. His reduced mobility in the rest of the game didn’t help Town’s cause. Blyth took the lead in the 2nd minute when Knibbs’ attempted punch fell to Linacre who made no mistake. Within two minutes Ilkeston were level when Jack Marsh turned in Brian Hopkins’ cross after the winger had been sent clear by John Commander. The joy did not last as Blyth regained the lead on 6 minutes through a McHale close range header from Linacre’s cross. Ilkeston exerted some pressure and were unlucky when Ramsey cleared off the line from Marsh but the important next goal came Blyth’s way on 25 minutes. Ramsey’s clearance found Turney who outstripped the defence and shot hard past Knibbs inside the post. Six minutes later Blyth made it four when on a counter Lynn pushed the ball through to Langland who shot beyond Knibbs. Ilkeston had a spell of pressure before half time but Inglis was able to deal with Hopkins’ weak shot after he had been put clear by John Commander. Johnson’s four leaf clover failed to benefit him when he hit the post.
Ilkeston had plenty of the ball after the break as Blyth sat back. Johnson shot straight at Inglis from close range whilst Inglis made a smart save from a Marsh header. The last word fell to Blyth ten minutes from time when Langland added the fifth.
ILKESTON BOUNCE BACK AS COUNTY COLLAPSE
24TH NOVEMBER 1956
NOTTS COUNTY ‘A’ 1 ILKESTON TOWN 8
Ilkeston romped to a ridiculously easy victory against a poor Notts side second from the bottom. They took the lead in the 7th minute when Terry Blount’s high centre was half cleared, Brian Hopkins knocked the ball back in and Ken Faulconbridge nodded it down to Jack Marsh to finish. Marsh then sent a header just wide and Faulconbridge, making his 200th appearance, struck the post. The second goal arrived on 31 minutes, Faulconbridge turning in Blount’s cross and Town scored again when Ken Johnson pressurised Noon into an own goal. Brunt pulled a goal back for Notts before half time with their only worthwhile effort of the game.
Sustained Town pressure led to a fourth goal. Marsh sent Blount away down the left and his cross was met by a Johnson header. Hopkins fired a terrific shot just over and Marsh had a goal ruled out for offside before Ilkeston scored again through a Dave Baker penalty after a handling offence. The final ten minutes saw Town score three more through Marsh, Johnson and Blount.
1ST DECEMBER 1956
WELLINGBOROUGH TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Ilkeston rode their luck after racing into a two goal lead with goals from the Hopkins brothers. A good first half performance was followed by a lethargic display after the break that almost cost them the game. Wellingborough’s no nonsense direct approach should not have troubled Town greatly but panic set in during the last fifteen minutes. Ilkeston took the lead inside the first minute when a lovely move involving Ken Faulconbridge, Jack Marsh and Colin Hopkins ended with Brian Hopkins providing the finishing touch. A sign of things to come occurred when Tom Cooper’s miskick allowed Holmes to break clear but the outstanding Dennis Knibbs narrowed the angle expertly and made the save. Marsh was just off target with a shot from just outside the area before Town went further ahead on 18 minutes. Faulconbridge’s pass was deflected by a defender to the previously offside Colin Hopkins and he went on to score with ease. Further evidence of Town’s nervousness at the back came when Les Smith allowed the ball to pass him and Holmes nipped in but he was unable to make the most of the chance. Holmes was again at fault when Burn put him in the clear and he shot wildly off target.
Wellingborough took control after the break but Ilkeston looked relatively comfortable. However, Knibbs had to make good saves from Rochester and Draper. Ilkeston could have killed the game when Brian Hopkins was through in acres of space but he directed his shot straight at Carrie. The home side pulled a goal back 13 minutes from time through Candlin. Suddenly Ilkeston were all at sea and how Wellingborough failed to score was a mystery. Perhaps the answer lay at Knibbs’ door for he made six remarkable saves during the final ten minutes.
HOLLAND OFF AS TOWN HIT SIX
8TH DECEMBER 1956
BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES 2 ILKESTON TOWN 6
The sending off for arguing of Brush Sports’ Holland when Ilkeston had been pinned back to 2-1 proved to be the turning point. Town went on to win convincingly and moved up to third place with games in hand. Brush started at a cracking pace and a terrific drive by Lockwood was only just off target. Ilkeston then came more into the game and Lilley made good saves from Jack Marsh, Terry Blount and Brian Hopkins. Marsh and Ken Faulconbridge also sent efforts off target before they took a 24th minute lead through a fine goal by Hopkins. He shaped to pass and wrong footed the defence by cutting in from the wing and firing in a firm drive. A minute later Town doubled their lead when Blount’s teasing cross lured Lilley and defender Charles but it was Ken Johnson who got their ahead of them to apply the finishing touch. Brush struck back immediately with Mullin, who took the ball forward some distance, creating the chance for Kennedy to score. Moments later Johnson was fouled and Holland protested too vociferously and received his marching orders. Brush continued to attack for a spell and Town were grateful to Tom Cooper who cleared off the line. However, Ilkeston surged further ahead on 37 minutes when Marsh’s harmless cross from near the corner flag slipped through Lilley’s fingers and rolled into the net.
Ilkeston took control after the break. A Blount shot struck the bar before Hopkins made it four in the 52nd minute. He turned and wove his way into a shooting position before picking his spot beautifully. Driver was unlucky to have a shot clip Ilkeston’s bar but it was an isolated attempt. Town’s fifth arrived on 78 minutes when Johnson scored following excellent work by Ken Faulconbridge. Brush went in search of a consolation goal and Millin’s well struck free kick sailed wide. Then Les Smith handled and Naylor scored from the spot with seven minutes to go. There was still time for Ilkeston to add a sixth and it duly came in the 87th minute when Marsh converted Blount’s cross.
UNBEATEN START COMES TO AN END
15TH DECEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 1 RUSHDEN TOWN 2
Two defensive mistakes proved to be costly as Ilkeston suffered their first league defeat of the season. Ilkeston’s lovely build up play throughout the game deserved a better fate although the visitors defended resolutely. During the first five minutes Emerton tipped a Ken Faulconbridge header over and saved shots from Horace Hackland and Dave Baker. He was beaten in the 6th minute when Baker’s free kick was deflected into the net by Gee. Rushden’s first attack resulted in a 24th minute equaliser. Dennis Knibbs could only push out Summers’ low cross to Long whose shot towards goal was blocked by Les Smith on the line. Unfortunately the ball rebounded to Summers and bounced off his knees into the net. Emerton made two excellent saves before half time keeping out a splendid shot by Terry Blount and another effort from Hackland.
Rushden came more into the game in the second half and looked dangerous on the break. Ilkeston still pushed forward, however, and a Faulconbridge shot was only just wide of the mark. As the minutes ticked by Ilkeston exerted more and more pressure but they were caught by a sucker punch two minutes from time. A long ball out of defence drew Knibbs out of his goal but he made a mess of his clearance and could not scramble back in time to keep out Long’s shot.
STAMFORD SWAMPED IN MUD
22ND DECEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 5 STAMFORD 2
The muddy Manor Ground was shrouded in fog when play started and Ilkeston’s direct style had Stamford reeling. The visitors only came into the game during the final ten minutes when Stenhouse and then Donaldson, who shot past the static Dennis Knibbs two minutes from time, scored a goal apiece. Stamford ‘keeper Oakley made several saves early on and a Tom Cooper free kick was met by Jack Marsh but the ball flashed wide as Ilkeston took control. They deservedly took the lead on 20 minutes through a Marsh tap in from Terry Blount’s cross after Les Disney started the move. In the 27th minute Oakley punched out a Ken Ledger shot and Blount fired the rebound in off the post to double the lead. Ilkeston scored a third before half time when Marsh and Disney combined to send Blount away and Disney dashed forward to receive the return pass and made no mistake.
The teams changed round straight away at half time due to the conditions and there was no let up for Stamford. Ken Faulconbridge was particularly unlucky with a shot that clipped the bar, a shot that was well held by Oakley and a backheeler that was disallowed for offside. Town’s fourth came on 64 minutes when Marsh completed a move started by Dave Baker and they scored again four minutes later when Ken Ledger’s shot was deflected in by Meakin.
CHRISTMAS NOT SO MERRY FOR TOWN
25TH DECEMBER 1956
LONG EATON UNITED 2 ILKESTON TOWN 1
A quick youthful Long Eaton side unbeaten since the opening day were far superior on the day to an Ilkeston team that had plenty of the ball but no thrust. United took the lead on 9 minutes when Tony Watson (a future Ilkeston player) initiated the move that led to two shots being cleared off the line before Tom Cooper turned a third into his own net. Morgan scrambled Long Eaton’s second two minutes before the break.
Jack Marsh gave Ilkeston hope when he pulled a goal back in the 54th minute but Town lacked the necessary punch to draw level. Ken Johnson failed to find the target on his 100th appearance for Ilkeston.
TOWN MOVE UP TO SECOND
29TH DECEMBER 1956
ILKESTON TOWN 2 ST NEOTS 0
Ilkeston climbed up to second place by winning a tremendous, open game of football. St Neots’ stylish and entertaining brand of football won them many admirers but they lacked the killer touch in front of goal. However, on a heavy pitch, Ilkeston generally held the upper hand and deserved their win. Town’s first opportunity fell to Ken Johnson who shot well wide and they almost scored when Randall headed off the line following a Terry Blount corner. After Duffett slipped through the Ilkeston rearguard but shot tamely Randall came to St Neots’ rescue again when he cleared a Johnson effort off the line. The unlucky Johnson then hit the post with a hard low shot and another effort struck ‘keeper Benson on the legs. Ken Ledger was next to show with a shot that struck the side net before Town finally went in front in the 37th minute. Benson could only parry Jack Marsh’s shot and Ken Faulconbridge was on hand to snap up the chance.
St Neots were more determined in attack after the break and a Faulkner cross was hit on the run by Hopkins only for Dennis Knibbs to make a splendid save. Benson was kept busy as Town gradually regained control and they were rewarded two minutes from time when neat play by Faulconbridge set up Marsh to fire in the second.
KETTERING CAN’T ROUGH UP ILKESTON
5TH JANUARY 1957
KETTERING TOWN RESERVES 0 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Kettering’s over zealous approach failed to knock Ilkeston out of their stride. Ilkeston showed great courage and character to come away with the points. Dennis Knibbs in particular came in for some rough treatment and John Commander was carried off with twenty minutes remaining but Town held on. Indeed they could have increased their lead after weathering the storm. Ilkeston deserved the win and Ken Faulconbridge was denied a goal four times by the excellence of ‘keeper Moore, but Kettering created openings of their own especially after the break. After Ilkeston attacked with gusto early on Knibbs saved a Squires header. Les Disney had to leave the pitch for a spell after being struck by the heavy ball but this didn’t stop Ilkeston from pressing forward. Faulconbridge struck the angle of the woodwork with a header and was only just off target soon after. He was also heavily involved in Town’s 23rd minute goal. He collected the ball inside his own half and pushed forward before opening up space for Ken Ledger. Continuing his forward movement he latched onto the winger’s cross and although his shot struck the bar the ball fell to Les Disney who scored from the rebound.
Kettering were rejuvenated after half time. Their best chance fell to Squires but his shot was a weak one and although Nixon was able to pounce onto the loose ball Knibbs was well placed to beat out the shot. Tom Cooper suffered a similar fate to Disney during the second half when he suffered an injury whilst heading the ball.
JOHNSON EARLY STRIKE SETTLES LOCAL DERBY
12TH JANUARY 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 1 HEANOR TOWN 0 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP SECOND ROUND)
4175 spectators turned up at the Manor Ground to see Ilkeston take on Heanor, high flying in the Central Alliance Division One North, in this Derbyshire Senior Cup tie. The game was played at a cracking pace initially but the gluepot pitch soon sapped the energy of the players. Ilkeston, who deserved their narrow victory, began well with Ken Faulconbridge heading narrowly over before Ken Johnson gave them a 6th minute lead. John Commander’s forward pass found Jack Marsh who deceived the defence before firing in a shot that Lynch could only parry. The resulting scramble ended with Ken Johnson hooking the ball home. Heanor’s first chance fell to Clive Burton (a future Ilkeston player) and his shot was expertly smothered by the advancing Dennis Knibbs. Lynch saved Heanor when he turned a Marsh snap shot round the post before Heanor began a spell of pressure that saw Harry Brennan (another future Ilkeston player) centre across the face of the goal with no one able to apply the finishing touch. Lynch was called into action again before half time when he made saves from Faulconbridge and Terry Blount.
It was only during the final 20 minutes that Heanor looked capable of earning a replay. Calladine had the best chance but he took too long and Tom Cooper was able to clear. Over exuberance by Allen late in the game saw him kick Knibbs whilst the ‘keeper was attempting a clearance. He was booked while Knibbs received treatment.
19TH JANUARY 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 3 LONG EATON UNITED 1
Town beat their local rivals to go top of the table although Skegness were level on points with two games in hand. Long Eaton, who were previously in second place, could have no complaints about the result. Their young side was fast and tenacious but Ilkeston’s greater stamina and know how won out in the end. Ilkeston took the lead in the 2nd minute when former player Mike Fitch handled 40 yards out. Dave Baker’s free kick was headed past Warry by Horace Hackland. Town continued to dominate and Ken Johnson had a header well saved whilst Terry Blount and Ken Ledger were just off target with their efforts. Long Eaton began to come more into the game as the half wore on. A Sanders header was turned away by Dennis Knibbs, future Town player Barry Clarke shot wide, Hardman’s long range free kick was held by Knibbs and Tom Cooper cleared off the line from McVeigh.
Ilkeston stepped it up after the break and after Jack Marsh crashed a shot against the post they doubled the lead on 63 minutes. Ledger’s high cross was left by Marsh to allow Faulconbridge to apply the finish. Clarke pulled a goal back in the 71st minute when he fastened onto a through ball and finished well but Ilkeston remained in control and sealed the win six minutes from time. Ledger’s cross was met by a smart Johnson header.
TOWN APATHY LEADS TO CUP EXIT
26TH JANUARY 1957
ROTHWELL TOWN 3 ILKESTON TOWN 1 (LEAGUE CUP QUARTER FINAL)
Lowly Rothwell thoroughly deserved their victory against an Ilkeston team who seemed over confident and lacking in drive. The home side began strongly and missed several chances before taking a 13th minute lead. Tom Cooper tripped Marlow and Linnett scored from the spot despite Dennis Knibbs getting a hand to it. Les Disney and Ken Faulconbridge had a couple of efforts on goal but these were isolated Ilkeston threats. Webb missed a golden chance to double the lead when he miskicked in front of goal but he made amends soon after. Marlow raced past Cooper and his pass was tucked away by Webb with a low shot. With Ilkeston conceding possession far too easily Rothwell made it three on 25 minutes and it was Webb again, this time delicately lifting the ball over Knibbs from Marlow’s centre. Ilkeston reduced the arrears before the break when Faulconbridge sent Ken Ledger away down the right and when he received the return Faulconbridge neatly slipped the ball through to Disney to score.
Ilkeston had much more of the play in the second half but ineffective finishing let them down. However, they thought they had scored when Ledger’s shot struck the underside of the bar and the referee awarded a goal. The intervention of the linesman led to the referee changing his mind and the resulting drop ball on the goal line ended with Rothwell scrambling the ball clear.
2ND FEBRUARY 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 5 WELLINGBOROUGH TOWN 1
Wellingborough’s early pressure counted for nothing and they were well beaten by Ilkeston who came back from behind. The visitors had already gone close twice when Spentlove and Burn had efforts saved by Dennis Knibbs when they took an 11th minute lead. John Commander handled under pressure and Burn scored from the spot. However, once Ilkeston equalised six minutes later, the pattern of the game changed. The goal came when Colin Hopkins threaded the ball through to Ken Ledger who placed the ball past Carrie. Ledger tested Carrie with a shot on the run and Les Disney was only inches wide with an effort before Town’s pressure paid off on 35 minutes, Hopkins crashing the ball home in a goalmouth scramble. Three minutes later Ilkeston scored their third. Disney got sandwiched between McKay and Freestone and Dave Baker made no mistake with his penalty. Wellingborough pressed for a goal shortly before half time but Ilkeston’s solid defence kept them out.
Ilkeston resumed in attacking mode in the second half. After Ken Johnson’s swerving shot was saved by Carrie they went further ahead in the 59th minute. Johnson’s shot was half stopped and Horace Hackland pounced to force the ball over the line. Ilkeston relaxed for a time and Knibbs was forced into saves by Lloyd, Burn and Rochester but Wellingborough ran out of steam and Town finished strongly. Terry Blount shot across the face of the goal and Ledger had a shot saved before they netted a fifth eleven minutes from time. Johnson sent Blount away and he scored with a low shot.
CORBY YOUNGSTERS LACKED ILKESTON STEEL
9TH FEBRUARY 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 5 CORBY TOWN RESERVES 0
Corby fielded seven teenagers and the pick of the bunch was ‘keeper Dickson whose fine saves, including a Horace Hackland penalty late in the game, kept the score down. Ilkeston had power up front and were solid at the back and the result was never in doubt. From as early as the 1st minute when Baird cleared off the line from Terry Blount Ilkeston were in control. Several early misses could have proved costly when Corby’s Gallacher fired a fine shot just over but this proved to be the visitors’ only worthwhile effort. Dickson produced a couple of fine stops to deny Colin Hopkins and Ken Ledger although he knew little about Ken Johnson’s shot that struck him and bounced to safety. Eventually Ilkeston took the lead when Hopkins nodded in a Ledger cross. Les Disney almost had a chance when he was wrong footed by Hopkins’ pass but soon the floodgates opened. On 43 minutes Disney scored a splendid goal following a Blount cross and Town scored a third on the stroke of half time when Ledger sprinted away and crossed for Hopkins to head home.
The fourth goal came two minutes after the break when Johnson’s fierce drive went into the net via the post. Disney completed the scoring with an opportunist goal when he made the most of Johnson’s through ball.
ILKESTON VICTORY IN THE MUD
16TH FEBRUARY 1957
ROTHWELL TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Ilkeston, for whom Ken Ledger made his 300th appearance, dominated in the mud and created plenty of chances although the pitch hardly assisted them in their quest for victory. They began well with a splendid Ken Faulconbridge header just clearing the bar and Nimmo had to make a smart stop from Colin Hopkins. He then made further saves to deny Hopkins and Terry Blount before Dennis Knibbs was called into action with a difficult save from a Marlow shot. Ilkeston scored the only goal of the game in the 15th minute when Faulconbridge wove his way round the back of the Rothwell defence and laid the ball to Les Disney who just beat Nimmo to the ball to score. In another race to the ball between Disney and Nimmo the Ilkeston forward was just unable to find the target, and the busy ‘keeper soon had to make further saves from Hopkins and Dave Baker. Rothwell enjoyed a spell of pressure before half time and Knibbs was forced into saves by Traynor and Linnett.
Rothwell showed more enthusiasm after the break but the pitch soon sapped the energy from both sets of players. When Ilkeston awarded with a penalty Baker failed to find sufficient power to beat Nimmo from 12 yards.
SHIREBROOK SHATTER SENIOR CUP DREAM
2ND MARCH 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 0 SHIREBROOK MINERS WELFARE 2 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP QUARTER FINAL)
Shirebrook maintained their 100% record in the Derbyshire Senior Cup against Ilkeston with a smash and grab raid. Ilkeston dominated the play but failed to turn the advantage into goals whereas Shirebrook were ruthless when it mattered. Town suffered a blow inside two minutes when Ken Ledger fractured his nose in a collision with Cooper. By the time he returned 24 minutes later they were already behind. Ilkeston should have gone in front when Colin Hopkins was clean through but he shot horribly wide. Shirebrook made them pay when they took the lead in the 8th minute against the run of play. Tom Cooper allowed the ball to pass him and was too slow to turn which allowed Marron to feed Frank Hopkins. Les Smith, making his 300th appearance, missed his tackle and the ball ran on to Collins who made no mistake. Repeated Town attacks during the rest of the half came to nothing. Les Disney’s dipping shot clipped the bar, Terry Blount, who was guilty of missing several chances during the game, shot into the side net, as did Disney with another effort.
When Ilkeston managed to breach the Shirebrook defence during the second half ‘keeper Trolley was in no mood to concede. He did well to hold one Ledger shot and was well positioned to save a drive from Hopkins. It was left to Collins to show Ilkeston how it should be done although there was an element of good fortune with his second goal. His long range shot struck a divot and bounced over Dennis Knibbs’ dive.
NOMADS NO MATCH FOR TOWN
9TH MARCH 1957
ANSTEY NOMADS 0 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Ilkeston leaped back to the top of the table thanks to a win on a sandy pitch. They adapted well to the condtions despite a lack of finnesse and although their overall performance was below par it was sufficient to defeat Anstey. Nevertheless, it needed the heroics of Dennis Knibbs to keep out the home attack, including a penalty save. The non arrival of the referee led to George Darwin becoming one of the linesmen. Ilkeston started the stronger and had an opportunity but Colin Hopkins was not quick enough to take advantage of a defensive mix up. Newball made saves from Alwyn Booth and Hopkins but his stops were eclipsed by an outstanding Knibbs double save from Payne at the other end. Booth tested Newball with a hard shot, Hopkins beat three men and was just off target with his effort and Booth’s long range shot brought a fine save. Such pressure inevitably led to Town taking the lead in the 25th minute. Terry Blount’s centre found Hopkins whose first time lob deceived Newball. Anstey came more into the game before half time and Knibbs firstly saved a Freer free kick and then turned a Willett shot round the post.
Wood could have equalised after the restart but he shot well wide from a good position. Blount was unfortunate not to extend Town’s lead when he beat three men before firing against the post although Ilkeston had a lucky escape when Payne ballooned over from close range. Newball did well to stop Blount’s well struck shot before the crucial incident in the game took place 19 minutes from time when Les Smith fouled Willett. Knibbs saved Freer’s penalty and dived on the loose ball, receiving a kick as he did so which led to him needing treatment. Anstey’s miss proved costly when Horace Hackland, Ken Ledger and Rex Clarke combined well for the latter to score Town’s second in the 83rd minute.
NOTTS WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
16TH MARCH 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 1 NOTTS COUNTY ‘A’ 2
Town, who included three reserves players, were mauled by Notts in a fast, open game played in steady rain on a heavy pitch. Horace Hackland came close to giving Ilkeston the lead with a rasping shot that appeared to be heading for the net before it was deflected wide by team mate Billy Hare. Notts’ first effort of note came from a deceptive Hill lob that was turned over the bar by Dick Matthews. However, it was Ilkeston who went ahead in the 25th minute when Alwyn Booth broke through and he was fouled twice before the referee pointed to the spot. Dave Baker slammed home the penalty.
Ilkeston had a couple of efforts on goal early in the second half. Hare’s first time shot was just off target while Booth’s effort lacked the necessary force. But Notts were much more of an attacking force and it was no surprise when they equalised on 62 minutes when Brunt’s long shot deceived Matthews. They scored again in their next attack, again through Brunt, when he outjumped Matthews and Tom Cooper to head in Hill’s cross. Notts went on to clinch a deserved victory.
LEADERS CONSOLIDATE AT THE TOP
23RD MARCH 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 0 SKEGNESS TOWN 2
Leaders Skegness, who had dropped only 3 league points, dealt Ilkeston’s title hopes a serious blow with a stylish, polished display backed by pace. Although Ilkeston created more chances their defence was hesitant and unsettled by the speed of the Skegness forwards. The visitors took the lead in the 9th minute with a contentious and somewhat bizarre goal. As defenders stopped waiting for an offside flag Martin played on and shot. Dennis Knibbs, off balance and with an arm raised appealing, managed to stick out a foot to block the shot, sending the ball spinning into the air. Dave Baker’s frantic attempts to clear were in vain and Martin was left with a simple tap in. Boden then put the ball in Town’s net for a second time but this time offside was given. Ilkeston exerted some pressure before half time. Jack Walters lifted the ball over the bar, a Jack Marsh header was cleared off the line by Moody, a Ken Johnson shot was tipped over, and Terry Blount missed a sitter.
Ilkeston continued to take the game to Skegness after the break without seriously looking like scoring. With time running out and Ilkeston pressing forward a long clearance caught them off guard and Boden was brought down by John Commander when looking set to score. Moody converted the 83rd minute penalty.
FRUSTRATION FOR ILKESTON
30TH MARCH 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 1 GRANTHAM RESERVES 1
Ilkeston’s title hopes took another knock as chances went begging. They also suffered an injury blow when Jack Marsh was carried off following a collision with Hewitt in the 61st minute. Marsh was not the only injury victim of the game. A Dave Baker 25 yard free kick flew wide of the goal and knocked out a spectator, whilst Tom Cooper and Brian Spencer also picked up knocks. Play was even early in the game although Grantham’s methodical build up play was too ponderous. Grantham ‘keeper Hewitt was troubled by a Jack Walters 25 yard free kick but he managed to scramble it to safety. Grantham’s best opportunity of the first half fell to the unmarked Spencer who had plenty of time but chose to shoot first time and his shot ballooned over the bar. Dennis Knibbs was also called upon to save a long range drive by Burton before the break.
Jack Marsh almost put Town ahead after the break when his initial effort was cleared off the line by Allen and his fiercely struck shot from the rebound just cleared the bar. Walters twice went close with shots including a brilliant hook over the shoulder. Despite the loss of Marsh Ilkeston looked the more likely to score and the goal duly came on 76 minutes. Walters’ brilliant piece of individualism created time and space for a low cross and Terry Blount gratefully accepted the opportunity. Yet within three minutes they were pegged back. A move that began from Grantham’s own penalty area should have been snuffed out before Doyle’s finish. Ilkeston were stunned by the equaliser and late Grantham pressure could easily have led to an Ilkeston defeat.
BACK TO WINNING WAYS
6TH APRIL 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 3 BRUSH SPORTS RESERVES 0
Although their title hopes had almost disappeared the runners up spot looked well within Ilkeston’s grasp following this comfortable victory. Town were a little shot shy, particularly in the first half, when they scored just the one goal despite dominating the play. They attacked dangerously in the early minutes. Jack Walters’ awkward header was just too high and then he had a shot saved by Lilley, as did Ken Ledger. However, Walters’ well placed shot gave Ilkeston the lead on 9 minutes. Despite their first half dominance Town created little in the way of chances and Brushs’ Smith issued a warning with a 30 yard shot that flew inches over Dennis Knibbs’ bar.
After half time Brush pushed forward more and Knibbs was forced to save a 20 yard shot by Horton. Stevens then fired high and wide from the edge of the area. Gradually Ilkeston stamped their authority and after they had a confident penalty appeal for handball turned down they doubled their lead in the 61st minute. Les Disney’s pass provided Stuart Bradwell with the opportunity to head home. The referee did spot Woods’ handball nine minutes later and Dave Baker thumped in the penalty to put the match out of the visitors’ reach. Knibbs had one further save to make when he did well to keep out Aston’s shot but Ilkeston came closest to scoring late in the game when a George Brown shot rattled the bar.
GUTLESS AT GRANTHAM
11TH APRIL 1957
GRANTHAM RESERVES 2 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Ilkeston lacked spirit, commitment and punch in a very disappointing performance against a powerful, purposeful Grantham team. Ilkeston’s best chance of a lacklustre first half fell to Les Disney when he missed with only Gilbert to beat. The only goal of the half deservedly went Grantham’s way and came when George Brown’s clearance from a corner rebounded Gaskell’s way and he whipped in a fine shot.
Ilkeston’s 70th minute equaliser was their only highlight and was the result of Jack Walters’ beautifully placed shot from a Ken Ledger centre. However, Grantham got the winner their play deserved six minutes from time when Gaskell, unmarked following a well directed free kick, drove past Dennis Knibbs. Gaskell was unlucky not to have scored a hat-trick as he struck a free kick against the bar earlier in the game. Had that gone in the scoreline would have painted a truer picture of the game.
IMPROVED DISPLAY AT DERBY
13TH APRIL 1957
DERBY COUNTY ‘A’ 0 ILKESTON TOWN 1
On a hard surface Ilkeston gave an improved performance, particularly during the second half. Ilkeston also had most of the play during the first half and should have scored but Les Disney was too slow to get in a shot after receiving a pass from Tom Cooper. Cooper’s persistence forced Morhen into a point blank range save whilst Ilkeston had a huge penalty appeal turned down after Disney was felled in the area. Ilkeston’s lack of penetration gave Derby heart and it needed a superb saving tackle by Les Smith to deny Tate after Dave Baker’s error. Tate also had a shot saved by Dennis Knibbs’ boot before half time.
Ilkeston picked up after the break and Jack Walters was only just off target after Cooper’s flick but their lack of punch up front was a concern. However they deservedly took the lead in the 64th minute when Walters burst forward and found Ken Ledger whose low cross was forced over the line by Disney. The goal gave Ilkeston greater confidence but they failed to add to the score despite some near misses and some good saves by Morhen.
GREATER POTENCY FROM TOWN
20TH APRIL 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 3 DERBY COUNTY ‘A’ 1
Ilkeston posed a greater attacking threat than they had for several weeks and treated supporters to some dynamic football. After several near misses they went ahead on 15 minutes when Morhen couldn’t hold Ken Ledger’s cross shot and Colin Hopkins tapped in. Hopkins posed big problems for the Derby defence and Morhen did well to hold his powerfully struck shot and two headers were only just off target. Ilkeston wouldn’t be denied, however, and after a Patrick handball Dave Baker scored the resultant penalty on the stroke of half time.
Morhen twice saved from Les Disney before Derby were given a glimmer of hope when Dennis Knibbs misjudged a Bowers shot. Nevertheless Ilkeston continued to hold the upper hand and got the third goal their play warranted through Hopkins six minutes from time.
SKEGNESS ALMOST THERE
22ND APRIL 1957
SKEGNESS TOWN 3 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Ilkeston, boosted by 400 travelling fans that swelled the gate to 2800, finally said goodbye to any faint title hopes as Skegness moved within touching distance. Skegness, methodical and effective, looked worthy champions and well and truly beat Ilkeston although it has to be said that Town gave a good account of themselves. But for defensive errors that led to Skegness’ first two goals Ilkeston might well have taken something from the game. Ilkeston began brightly and Jack Walters could have done better than firing wide when in a good position. It was slightly against the run of play when Skegness took a 17th minute lead. Hesitation between Dennis Knibbs and Les Smith proved fatal as Wardle nipped in to score. Boden missed a good chance to extend their lead and Knibbs redeemed himself when he saved a shot from distance by Boulton.
Gradually Ilkeston came more into the game. A Dave Baker cross shot was only cleared with difficulty and Les Disney induced a foul by Wardle who was severely reprimanded by the referee. They were rewarded in the 57th minute when Colin Hopkins forced his way through the defence and Disney, who required lengthy treatment off the pitch for his pains, applied the finishing touch. Ilkeston’s hopes were dashed on 68 minutes when, following a corner, Smith inadvertently knocked the ball to Hancock who put Skegness ahead. John Commander’s shot was saved by Morgan as Ilkeston looked for an equaliser but the latter stages were dominated by the home side. Six minutes from time they put the match beyond Ilkeston’s reach through Fred Martin, the former Ilkeston player who would later return to the club.
SECOND PLACE STILL ON
24TH APRIL 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 1 ROTHWELL TOWN 0
The runners up spot remained a very realistic prospect for Ilkeston although the match itself was forgettable fare. Ilkeston dominated but a mixture of pitiable finishing and bad luck restricted them to one goal. Rothwell were restricted to isolated breakaways but Town’s solid defence had the measure of them. Les Disney’s glorious first half header that struck the bar typified a frustrating first half for Ilkeston but they did eventually take the lead two minutes before the break. Colin Hopkins unselfishly let the ball run on into Jack Walters’ path and he cracked home from the edge of the box.
Ilkeston continued to press after the break but there was a lack of cohesion and fluency about their play. The closest they came to doubling the lead was a terrific Walters strike that struck ‘keeper Nimmo.
27TH APRIL 1957
ST NEOTS 5 ILKESTON TOWN 1
A shocking final half hour during which Ilkeston fell apart and St Neots helped themselves to four goals was a real hammer blow to Ilkeston’s hopes of finishing second. It had all begun so well when veteran Alwyn Booth’s left foot shot following Dennis Breedon’s downward header gave them a fifth minute lead. Horace Hackland almost made it two when his effort was cleared off the line by Bloomfield. Gradually the home side came more into the game and Arnold was unlucky when a difficult bounce caused him to shoot wide when through on goal. Dennis Knibbs kept Town in front with several saves from Faulkner and Hopkins but he could do little about Arnold’s 41st minute equaliser, the result of an error by Hackland.
Up until the hour mark it was anybody’s game but when Duffett put St Neots ahead Ilkeston folded. A head injury to Les Smith was a possible reason but there was little excuse for the abject defending that saw further goals by Hopkins, Arnold and Duffett.
TOWN’S SEASON LIMPS TO A CLOSE
4TH MAY 1957
ILKESTON TOWN 1 KETTERING TOWN RESERVES 1
Ilkeston had to settle for third place following this uninspiring end of season draw. An experimental line up that included centre half Les Smith wearing the number 9 shirt for the only time in his career did little to help their cause. Nevertheless they did most of the attacking and were the stronger side. But for some good goalkeeping by Hales Ilkeston’s constant pressure would probably have won the game. However, Ilkeston also let themselves down by some poor finishing. Kettering went ahead against the run of play on 20 minutes through Hall but Horace Hackland equalised within a minute. The occasion was marked by Alwyn Booth’s final appearance for the club.
1956/57 CENTRAL ALLIANCE DIVISION TWO FINAL TABLE
|1||Heanor Town Reserves||34||29||2||3||145||50||60|
|2||ILKESTON TOWN RESERVES||34||27||2||5||149||54||56||X||X|
|3||Arnold St Marys||34||22||6||6||160||72||50||6-2||2-5|
|5||Sutton Town Reserves||34||23||4||7||118||74||50||2-2|
|6||Ransome & Marles Reserves||34||22||4||8||118||82||48|
|7||Belper Town Reserves||34||22||2||10||124||69||46|
|9||Creswell Colliery Reserves||34||15||4||15||105||115||34||5-0|
|10||Thoresby Miners Welfare||34||14||5||15||87||98||33||1-0|
|12||Long Eaton Zingari||34||11||3||20||107||121||25|
|13||Shirebrook Miners Welfare Reserves||34||11||3||20||83||121||25|
|16||Loscoe Miners Welfare||34||6||4||24||66||150||16|
|17||Retford British Ropes Reserves||34||4||4||26||55||151||12||8-1||10-1|
|18||Wilmorton & Alvaston Reserves||34||3||1||30||37||153||7|
DERBYSHIRE DIVISIONAL CUP FINAL
ILKESTON TOWN RESERVES 1, HEANOR TOWN RESERVES 2