01 19


  P W D L F A Pts
1 Rushden & Diamonds 42 29 7 6 99 41 94
2 Halesowen Town 42 27 11 4 70 36 92
3 Cheltenham Town 42 21 11 10 76 57 74
4 Gloucester City 42 21 8 13 65 47 71
5 Gresley Rovers 42 20 10 12 70 58 70
6 Worcester City 42 19 12 11 61 43 69
7 Merthyr Tydfil 42 19 6 17 67 59 63
8 Hastings Town 42 16 13 13 68 56 61
9 Crawley Town 42 15 13 14 57 56 58
10 Sudbury Town 42 15 10 17 69 71 55
11 Gravesend & Northfleet 42 15 10 17 60 62 55
12 Chelmsford City 42 13 16 13 46 53 55
13 Dorchester Town 42 15 8 19 62 57 53
14 Newport 42 13 13 16 53 59 52
15 Salisbury City 42 14 10 18 57 69 52
16 Burton Albion 42 13 12 17 55 56 51
17 Atherstone United 42 12 12 18 58 75 48
18 Baldock Town 42 11 14 17 51 56 47
19 Cambridge City 42 12 10 20 56 68 46
20 ILKESTON TOWN 42 11 10 21 53 87 43
21 Stafford Rangers 42 11 4 27 58 90 37
22 VS Rugby 42 5 10 27 37 92 25

Matches before 24th February to follow later

The arrival of Keith Alexander as manager made little difference as Ilkeston extended their miserable run without a win to 19 games. They dominated the early stages and Mark Harbottle's lob drifted wide, and a couple of other half chances were missed. Ilkeston were well in the game for an hour despite going behind in the 41st minute when Sullivan's free kick from the right was met by Tallon whose effort flew into the net past Alan Rigby, making his 214th and final appearance for Ilkeston.

Dorchester's second goal, on 62 minutes, was a carbon copy of the first, this time substitute Evans' powerful header doing the damage. A minute later a long free kick was flicked into the net by Tallon to complete the scoring. 

2ND MARCH 1996
Ilkeston made a positive start but Hastings soon began to pose problems. Ullathorne's 25 yard shot flew just over before Simmons cut inside and sent in a shot that went well over the top. The game changed when Smith stamped on Dave Robinson, who had brought down Barham, and was sent off whilst Robinson was booked for his challenge. Ilkeston began to look more lively and a nice move involving Jason Kabia, Justin Jackson and Mark Clarke ended with Jackson's header being held by Creed. Dave Harbottle then headed over from a Robert Codner free kick, but Hastings issued a warning when O'Shaughnessy's square ball was met by Barham whose shot from the edge of the area hit the bar. Jason Campbell limped off with a thigh strain, an injury that was to end his days as an Ilkeston player, but Ilkeston shrugged off this setback. Mark Pennant volleyed over from Jackson's cross, and Pennant then set up substitute Jason Bowler who shot over from 6 yards. The first half ended with Cuggy breaking clear of the Ilkeston defence but Paul Reece made a fine save.

Hastings put on some early pressure in the second half and Pennant picked up a yellow card but Ilkeston stepped up a gear and began to dominate the ten men. Codner played in Bowler whose shot on the turn brought a fingertip save from Creed, and Jackson was brought down by Henderson but no penalty was given. Instead, a free kick on the edge of the box was awarded which was taken by Codner and this resulted in Robinson heading over. An Ilkeston corner led to Bowler heading wide before they made the breakthrough on 75 minutes. Codner surged forward and cut in to shoot from 25 yards, the ball came back off the post, and Jackson buried the rebound. Ilkeston continued to control the game and secured a well deserved victory, their first in over four months.

9TH MARCH 1996
Ilkeston, for whom Mark Clifford made his debut, were brought back down to earth by fellow strugglers Crawley who outclassed them from the off. Adams' ferocious shot was bravely blocked by Mark Clarke, Paul Reece held Turner's 25 yard free kick, and Theodosiou had a goal disallowed for a foul on Clarke. Restarick then had an effort saved by Reece before Ilkeston had their first serious goal attempt, a Mark Harbottle free kick that was held by Chatfield. Crawley deservedly went in front on 34 minutes when Meade nodded Theodosiou's free kick to Restarick who pounced to score from 8 yards. Two minutes later they scored again through a Theodosiou overhead kick into the corner after Reece punched out Mackie's free kick. Ilkeston then had a let off when Dave Robinson appeared to hold Meade but no penalty was awarded. Ilkeston tried to get themselves back into the game before half time and when Chatfield punched a corner to Dave Harbottle the 'keeper recovered to tip over his fierce shot on the turn.

Crawley began the second half well before Ilkeston had their best spell of the game. Bryn Gunn's long throw led to Jason Kabia's shot on the turn going high and wide, Dave Harbottle headed over after being set up by brother Mark, and the same player appeared to be brought down by Ford but the referee turned down the penalty appeals. However, Crawley scored the all important next goal in the 63rd minute. Rogers broke through and his shot rebounded to Meade who scored from 10 yards as Ilkeston looked for an offside flag. Restarick almost added another when he jabbed wide from close range. But Ilkeston hit back on 67 minutes after Dave Harbottle shot low and wide from a free kick. Rob Bilbie flicked on Mark Harbottle's cross to substitute Jason Bowler who volleyed home from 14 yards. Ilkeston began to exert some pressure yet Crawley soon scored again when Restarick tucked the ball away after being put through by Theodosiou. Robinson was then booked for a foul on Rogers before Ilkeston had one last flurry. Bowler's cross was knocked to the far post by Mark Harbottle and Justin Jackson's diving header was brilliantly saved by Chatfield. There was still time for the visitors to almost add a fifth but Dale Igoe, making his final Ilkeston appearance, cleared Rogers' header off the line.    

16TH MARCH 1996
Salisbury shaded a fairly even first half but The Robins hit back in style to claim a deserved victory. Town began well with Richard Brown putting Jason Kabia clear and 'keeper Teasdale did well to beat out his shot. Brown was then booked for a foul on Carroll before Salisbury began to create chances. Leader found Browne whose 30 yard shot was tipped over by Paul Reece, DeGordon scuffed a chance following Chalk's cross with Ilkeston's defence in disarray, and DeGordon then sliced wide following Browne's nod down. Salisbury eventually took the lead on 37 minutes when Chalk released DeGordon whose low cross from the left was converted by Carroll from 12 yards. Ilkeston hit back with Dave Taylor setting Kabia free but his weak shot was easily saved by Teasdale. Gary Middleton, making his Ilkeston debut, was booked for a foul on DeGordon but The Robins continued to press before half time. Dave Harbottle put Taylor through but his shot was blocked by Teasdale, and then an error by Baird allowed Jason Bowler to attempt to chip Teasdale who was able to claim the ball.

Ilkeston began the second half strongly. Taylor beat a defender and his deflected shot fell to Dave Harbottle who lobbed over the bar. But the equaliser soon came as Harbottle's through ball sent Taylor away who scored with a low shot. Teasdale's legs came to Salisbury's rescue when Kabia put Harbottle in on goal, and the 'keeper then tipped over a Kabia header. Town's winner came six minutes from time when, following a corner, Donovan Gethfield's header just crossed the line. Salisbury tried to find a late equaliser but Ilkeston defended solidly to hold out for a well earned win.

19TH MARCH 1996
No report available. Robert Codner scored Ilkeston's goal whilst Ellison was on target for Atherstone. Dave Harbottle made his 150th appearance for Ilkeston and Dave Robinson played his 100th game for the club.

23RD MARCH 1996
Champions elect Rushden showed why they were top of the table but Ilkeston deserved their point through sheer endeavour. Rushden dominated the early play and Paul Reece had to save Hannigan's far post effort from a Hackett cross. Ilkeston replied with a Dave Taylor that was met by a Jason Kabia volley 16 yards out that was cleared by Brown. With play going from end to end Kirkup found Hackett at the far post but he was denied by a brilliant Reece save, whilst Dave Harbottle shot high and wide from distance at the other end. Simon Grayson then held off a challenge and shot from 20 yards straight at 'keeper Benstead. Rushden came close as Collins' 25 yard shot was headed off the line by Daley Thompson, and both Collins and Smith saw long range shots go wide of the target. Ilkeston continued to give as good as they got and Dave Taylor beat two men before Benstead made a good sve from his low shot. Town came closer still when Harbottle and Grayson combined well for Mark Hallam to fire against the post from the edge of the area. Town had a let off, however, when Gary Middleton appeared to handle but no penalty was awarded. An even first half ended with Mark Pennant finding Hallam who shot over from 20 yards.

After Ilkeston pressure at the start of the second half the visitors began to turn up the heat. Wilkins escaped from both Thompson and Donovan Gethfield before firing over from a tight angle, and Thompson came to The Robins' rescue when he headed off the line. Rushden eventually took the lead on 74 minutes when Wilkins beat Thompson and sent over a low cross that Hackett side footed home from six yards. Hackett then went on a good run before firing into the side net, and Watkins had a goal ruled out for a foul on Thompson. Ilkeston refused to give up, however, and following late pressure they equalised in the last minute. Jason Bowler fed Taylor who crossed low from the right and Grayson rammed the ball home from close range at the near post. 

27TH MARCH 1996
No report available. Dave Taylor scored twice and Simon Grayson scored the other for Ilkeston. Brown and Nicholls were the Newport scorers.

30TH MARCH 1996
Ilkeston somehow managed to come away with a win a game in which they woodstood almost constant Burton pressure. After an indifferent start by both teams Burton showed up first with Nuttall heading wide from a Titterton free kick. Ilkeston's first attempt came when Dave Taylor turned and shot over from 12 yards following good work by Dave Harbottle. Burton gradually took control, and Paul Reece made a fine save from Rhodes' first time shot after Stride and Freeman had linked well. Nuttall then saw a shot take a deflection off Rhodes but Reece recovered well to save, before Burton almost took the lead. Donovan Gethfield's poor clearance went to Freeman whose dipping volley hit the bar. Then, against the run of play, Ilkeston took a 28th minute lead. Mark Hallam's shot deflected off Simon Grayson to Mark Clarke who blasted home. A misunderstanding between Reece and Gethfield let in Freeman who squeezed his shot just wide, and a poor clearance by Reece fell to Rhodes but the 'keeper recovered well to save, as Burton looked for a quick reply. Yet, remarkably, Town scored again. Taylor hooked the ball to Hallam who brought the ball under control before burying it past Acton. Ilkeston were inspired by the goal and Grayson headed Taylor's cross just over. The game then became heated and a mass brawl broke out, but the ineffective referee chose not to issue any cards.

The second half saw Burton poor forward in an attempt to get back in the game but their aggressive intent only led to Wood being booked for a foul on Hallam. Eventually they pulled a goal back in the 76th minute. A free kick by future Ilkeston player Allan Davies was headed on by Nuttall and Rhodes' square ball was netted by Stride from close range. Ilkeston were subjected to further pressure and substitute Gretton's fierce shot was well held by Reece. Keith Alexander, upset by some decisions given against Ilkeston, received a booking, but Town put up fine resistence during the closing stages to come away with the points.  

6TH APRIL 1996
Ilkeston's slim hopes of avoiding the drop took a blow as their second half dominance against fellow strugglers Rugby failed to produce a winner. Rugby settled quickly and took a 10th minute lead. Carr's corner was nodded down by Murphy and the unmarked Yates prodded in from six yards. Ilkeston eventually settled and from a Mark Clarke corner Mark Hallam got in a header that was cleared off the line by Dalton. Simon Grayson then sliced an effort wide, and Dave Harbottle set up Hallam who was denied by a fine Trinder save. Town got back on level terms in the last minute of the first half. Mark Pennant and Dave Taylor combined well and when Trinder fumbled the resultant cross Clarke chipped the ball back in for Grayson to score with a close range header.

Ilkeston dominated after the break. Taylor's looping header cleared the bar, and Hallam's fierce shot just missed the top corner. The game grew competitive and Pennant was booked for a foul on Dalton, and then Carr was booked for a foul on Pennant on the edge of the Rugby box. Town's pressure failed to bring a reward, however. The closest they came in the closing stages was when Neil Glasser released substitute Jason Bowler who sliced his chance wide, and when Smith almost put through his own goal.

8TH APRIL 1996
There was precious little good football in this physical encounter. Ilkeston struggled from the moment Mark Hallam went off with a hamstring injury in the opening minutes. The tone of the game was set soon after when Stafford's Jenkins was the first of several bookings, and Stafford's physical approach worked against Ilkeston. Banks' cross was volleyed dangerously by O'Toole and Donovan Gethfield did well to clear, before the home side's Kilbane and Bywater both found themselves in the referee's notebook. Stafford then scored what turned out to be the winner on 29 minutes. Bywater headed a deep corner back for Kilbane to blast into the roof of the net. Future Ilkeston player Richard Mitchell then evaded Gary Middleton before his shot scraped past the post. Paul Reece held a Norbury header following a nice link up between Jennings and Banks, and Reece made a spectacular save to deny Mitchell before half time.

With Ilkeston unable to get going, Stafford showed greater purpose early in the second half, and Jennings and Mitchell both tried their luck from range. Ilkeston finally began to get into the game and tested the Stafford defence. Jason Kabia found Dave Taylor who cut inside and shot only for 'keeper Perks to palm the ball away. Town then missed a great chance when Mark Clarke's cross was somehow put wide from point blank range by Simon Grayson. Kabia then shot wide from distance before Town's challenge petered out. The game sprung back into life five minutes from time when an incident led to Jennings being sent off and Gethfield was booked. Ilkeston had a last gasp chance to draw level against the ten men but Dave Harbottle's header was cleared off the line by Hassell.

13TH APRIL 1996
Town's bid to avoid relegation suffered another setback but it would have been worse had they not snatched a late equaliser. Ilkeston showed up first after a quiet opening when Mark Pennant headed over from Dave Robinson's cross. Gravesend responded with Munday blasting over from 20 yards following Cotter's pass. Neil Glasser was booked for a foul on Spiller before Ilkeston had a good spell. Steve Carruthers' through ball released Robinson who chipped just over, and Robinson's angled drive from Rob Bilbie's cross was turned away by 'keeper Turner. Gravesend then began to look dangerous and almost took the lead when Reece tipped Jackson's free kick onto the angle and Munday's follow up was blocked. Munday soon tried a cross shot that Reece palmed away, but Ilkeston then created a good chance as half time approached. Good play between Simon Grayson and Dave Harbottle put Carruthers through only for him to be denied by Turner.

Gravesend rocked Ilkeston with a goal a minute into the second half when Jackson's free kick was touched in by Munday. Reece kept Ilkeston in the game with a superb save from Munday following Blewden's square pass. The Robins began to exert pressure as time drew on. Glasser shot over the bar, but their persistence paid off four minutes from time. Carruthers found space on the left and squared the ball to Dave Taylor who drove superbly from 20 yards into the top corner. With Ilkeston scenting victory, a Donovan Gethfield cross was headed by Harbottle but Turner produced a superb save. The visitors managed to hold firm, however, and used any tactics necessary. Best was booked for kicking the ball away in the dying moments.

16TH APRIL 1996
The game exploded into life after the break following a closely fought first half in which Ilkeston were the more dangerous. The Robins could have had two penalties before half time, the most clear cut incident being when Donovan Gethfield was wrestled to the ground, but the referee disregarded the appeals.

Town came close to a goal early in the second half. Steve Carruthers played in Dave Taylor who rounded 'keeper Acton only to see his shot cleared off the line by Brown with Carruthers putting the rebound wide. Ilkeston's hopes of victory suffered a blow in the 57th minute when Daley Thompson was pulled down by Rhodes. Thompson reacted with a head butt that led to a brawl, and he duly received a red card whilst Rhodes was issued with a yellow. Dave Harbottle was then also booked as he got in a skirmish with Rhodes. Despite being down to ten men Ilkeston began to build up a head of steam and they got the winner ten minutes from time. Harbottle was bundled over as he tried to get on the end of a Taylor cross, and Simon Grayson made no mistake from the spot.  

20TH APRIL 1996
Ilkeston kept their faint hopes of avoiding the drop alive with a good away win against a disappointing Salisbury team. Jason Kabia picked up an early yellow card as Ilkeston dominated the early play, and they could have gone in front. Simon Grayson was unlucky to see his delightful lob cleared off the line by Leader, and his follow up was saved by 'keeper Simpkins who required treatment when he collided with a post. Salisbury tried to get into the game with DeGordon shooting over from long range whilst a weak effort by Spencer was easily saved by Paul Reece. A good Ilkeston move involving Daley Thompson and Dave Robinson led to a cross from the latter that reached the off balance Grayson whose effort was saved, but Town had more joy on the stroke of half time. Grayson broke clear and crossed to the unmarked Steve Carruthers at the far post who was left with a simple finish.

Two minutes into the second half, Ilkeston made victory a virtual certainty. Robinson pushed forward and his deflected cross found Carruthers who scored his second. Dave Taylor received a yellow card for kicking the ball away in frustration when a decision didn't go his way, but otherwise Ilkeston had little to be frustrated about. Grayson's shot on the turn from 20 yards was well saved by Simpkins before Salisbury finally put on some pressure, during which time Dave Harbottle became another Ilkeston player to be booked. Poor finishing let them down, however. The best example came in the 83rd minute when Browne's penalty was well saved by Paul Reece who also saved the follow up. 

23RD APRIL 1996
Ilkeston's quest for a miraculous escape from relegation looked very much on until they were pegged back by a second half equaliser against the run of play. Town played with determination and power, especially during the first half, but a lack of killer instinct cost them dearly. Jason Kabia twice fired narrowly over from 25 yards, and 'keeper Ballard palmed away a Steve Carruthers shot before The Robins went in front on 35 minutes. Donovan Gethfield flicked on a Kabia corner and Dave Taylor netted with a downward header.

Simon Grayson had a great chance to make it two when he broke clear but he placed his shot wide. Ilkeston were punished for the miss, in the 56th minute. Lock fed Docking who went past Daley Thompson before firing home from 12 yards. More was seen of Chelmsford as an attacking force after this goal but Ilkeston remained the better side and ought to have won the game. 

27TH APRIL 1996
Ilkeston's fight against the drop ended with this disappointing defeat when they were rarely at their best. They began well with Simon Grayson flicking Daley Thompson's free kick to Steve Carruthers but his fierce shot cleared the bar. Dave Harbottle was booked as Gloucester began to take charge and a Webb shot was pushed away by Paul Reece. But they deservedly went in front on 16 minutes when Kemp headed home from a Howell corner. Howell made it two seven minutes later with a perfectly placed low free kick from 25 yards. Town responded with a Carruthers lay off to Grayson who put the ball wide, but it was still out of the blue when Ilkeston pulled a goal back on 27 minutes, a superb vicious dipping shot by Dave Taylor from 22 yards that entered the net via the bar. However, the goal failed to lift The Robins and Gloucester remained the dominant team.

Ilkeston at last tried to haul themselves back into the game after half time. Jason Kabia hit the bar with a lob from the edge of the area after receiving a square ball from Harbottle, and then a nice move involving Taylor, Grayson and Curruthers ended with Mark Hallam shooting over from 12 yards. Kemp was then booked for a foul on Hallam before Gloucester settled the issue with a 67th minute goal. Howell's corner found the unmarked Holloway who put away his header. Carruthers had a chance to score a second for Ilkeston but he shot straight at 'keeper Coles. The game became scrappy during the closing stages and Taylor picked up a booking.

4TH MAY 1996
There were chances galore in this open end of season fixture. Ilkeston got off to a great start when they opened the scoring on 2 minutes. Dave Taylor flicked the ball on to the unmarked Steve Carruthers who put the ball low past 'keeper Mocker. Carruthers had a chance to score another but he shot inches wide from Jason Kabia's through ball. Sudbury's first worthwhile attempt when Grice shot over from the edge of the area after Calliman's flick on, but they went further behind in the 12th minute. Taylor found Kabia whose cross from the right was touched by Dave Harbottle, making his final Ilkeston appearance, for Mark Hallam to score from close range. Sudbury responded well and reduced the arrears on 21 minutes through Brown's close range blast after Tracey had flicked on Grice's corner. Ilkeston almost got a third soon after when Hallam's free kick was fired against the post by Dave Harbottle from an acute angle but Sudbury were very much in the game. Grice's free kick was received by Stafford who fired over, and Adams' diving header from another Grice free kick went narrowly wide. A goalmouth scramble following a corner at the other end finished with Hallam putting the ball over the bar, and a Richard Booth overhead kick was met by a looping Carruthers header that met a similar fate. Sudbury's Thompson was booked for dissent prior to Ilkeston scoring a third a minute before half time. Taylor's header led to Carruthers scoring his second with a low shot.

Although Ilkeston began the second half in lively fashion Sudbury picked up and scored their second in the 63rd minute. Paul Reece was deceived by Ball's free kick and Brown was able to turn and blast home. The game then became very scrappy. A fracas resulted in no bookings although Dave Robinson was given a yellow card for a foul shortly after Grice blazed a free kick over the bar. Ilkeston gradually gained control and a lovely move almost gave Carruthers his hat-trick. Mark Pennant's pass tp Taylor was squared to Hallam who touched the ball on only for Carruthers to blast the great chance over. However, he made amends six minutes from time when he flicked the ball home following Taylor's cross from the right.