09 20






1996/97 SOUTHERN LEAGUE MIDLAND DIVISION FINAL TABLE

  P W D L F A Pts
1 Tamworth 40 30 7 3 90 28 97
2 Rothwell Town 40 20 11 9 82 54 71
3 ILKESTON TOWN 40 19 13 8 76 50 70
4 Grantham Town 40 22 4 14 65 46 70
5 Bedworth United 40 18 11 11 77 41 65
6 Solihull Borough 40 19 8 13 84 62 65
7 Bilston Town 40 18 10 13 74 57 64
8 Moor Green 40 18 7 15 88 68 61
9 Stafford Rangers 40 17 9 14 68 62 60
10 Raunds Town 40 16 11 13 61 66 59
11 Racing Club Warwick 40 16 10 14 70 72 58
12 Shepshed Dynamo 40 14 12 14 64 65 54
13 Redditch United 40 15 8 17 56 59 53
14 Paget Rangers 40 13 9 18 42 55 48
15 Dudley Town 40 12 10 18 70 89 46
16 Hinckley Town 40 11 11 18 39 63 44
17 Stourbridge 40 10 9 21 61 81 39
18 Evesham United 40 9 12 19 55 77 39
19 VS Rugby 40 9 9 22 49 81 36
20 Corby Town 40 8 8 24 49 88 32
21 Sutton Coldfield Town 40 7 9 24 29 85 30



1996/97 SOUTHERN LEAGUE MIDLAND DIVISION RESULTS

DATE OPPONENTS RESULT ATT SCORERS
17 AUG Sutton Coldfield Town W3-0 258 GETHFIELD, LAMPKIN, HALLAM
20 AUG CORBY TOWN L1-2 495 HUCKERBY
24 AUG RAUNDS TOWN W2-0 414 CARRUTHERS 2
31 AUG SOLIHULL BOROUGH L1-4 516 D.ROBINSON
03 SEP Bilston Town D1-1 161 SHAW
07 SEP ROTHWELL TOWN L3-4 412 HALLAM, SHAW 2
21 SEP RACING CLUB WARWICK W3-0 404 BYNG 2 (1PEN), RICHEFOND
25 SEP Corby Town D0-0 188
05 OCT DUDLEY TOWN D2-2 532 RICHEFOND, TAYLOR
12 OCT Grantham Town D1-1 357 MIDDLETON
19 OCT Rothwell Town D2-2 186 TAYLOR 2
26 OCT VS RUGBY W1-0 535 TODD
02 NOV Redditch United D1-1 240 HUCKERBY
16 NOV Stourbridge W3-1 166 KABIA 3
23 NOV EVESHAM UNITED L3-4 469 BISHOP, TAYLOR 2
07 DEC Raunds Town L2-3 172 BYNG, TAYLOR
14 DEC Solihull Borough D1-1 197 BYNG
21 DEC SHEPSHED DYNAMO W4-2 397 ESHELBY, HUCKERBY 2, KABIA
28 DEC Bedworth United L0-2 302
18 JAN Racing Club Warwick D1-1 153 SHAW
25 JAN MOOR GREEN W2-0 420 ESHELBY, GRAYSON
01 FEB Dudley Town L2-3 168 D.ROBINSON, BYNG (PEN)
15 FEB VS Rugby L0-2 328
22 FEB Moor Green D2-2 312 HUCKERBY, ESHELBY
04 MAR Tamworth D0-0 701
08 MAR STOURBRIDGE W4-2 417 HUCKERBY 2, LAW, BOWLER
15 MAR Shepshed Dynamo D1-1 272 WRIGHT
18 MAR HINCKLEY TOWN W4-0 277 WRIGHT, BOWLER, KNAPPER, ESHELBY
22 MAR Paget Rangers W2-1 145 ESHELBY 2 (1PEN)
25 MAR STAFFORD RANGERS W3-2 476 GRAYSON, ESHELBY, KABIA
29 MAR TAMWORTH W1-0 977 KABIA
31 MAR Hinckley Town W2-0 162 ESHELBY, KABIA
05 APR BEDWORTH UNITED D1-1 503 LAW
08 APR PAGET RANGERS D1-1 411 ESHELBY
12 APR Evesham United W4-2 144 ESHELBY, KABIA, GRAYSON, HUCKERBY
16 APR BILSTON TOWN W2-1 424 KABIA, D.ROBINSON
19 APR REDDITCH UNITED W1-0 469 KABIA
22 APR GRANTHAM TOWN W3-1 644 ESHELBY 2 (1PEN), HUCKERBY
26 APR Stafford Rangers W4-0 398 KABIA, D.ROBINSON, GRAYSON 2
03 MAY SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN W2-0 429 KABIA, GRAYSON



1996/97 FA CUP RESULT

ROUND DATE OPPONENTS RESULT ATT
1QR 14 SEP Atherton LR L0-1 131



1996/97 FA TROPHY RESULT

ROUND DATE OPPONENTS RESULT ATT SCORER
2QR 09 NOV Moor Green L1-2 235 BISHOP (PEN)



1996/97 DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP RESULTS

ROUND DATE OPPONENTS RESULT ATT SCORERS
3R 04 FEB GLOSSOP NORTH END W4-2 196 BOWLER, SHAW, KABIA, GRAYSON
QF 25 FEB Buxton W5-1 132 ESHELBY, WRIGHT, BOWLER 2, I.ROBINSON
SF 10 APR Sandiacre Town W1-0 315 D.ROBINSON
F1L 06 MAY GRESLEY ROVERS D1-1 636 KABIA
F2L 10 MAY Gresley Rovers L1-2 780 HUCKERBY



1996/97 SOUTHERN LEAGUE CUP RESULTS

ROUND DATE OPPONENTS RESULT ATT SCORERS
1R1L 08 OCT GRESLEY ROVERS D1-1 437 CARRUTHERS
1R2L 29 OCT Gresley Rovers D2-2 (woag) 600 TAYLOR, HUCKERBY
2R 30 NOV Paget Rangers W3-0 122 ESHELBY 2, KABIA
3R 14 JAN MOOR GREEN W2-1 252 WILSON, ESHELBY
QF 11 FEB Racing Club Warwick L0-1 227


TOWN WIN AT A PRICE
17TH AUGUST 1996
SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 3
Ilkeston made the start to the season they wanted although the victory was not as clear cut as the final score suggested. They also had a setback when Dave Taylor was discovered to have broken his arm during the game. The home team showed up first when Wright shot just wide following a Berks corner but it was Ilkeston who took the lead in the 15th minute, Donovan Gethfield heading home a Jason Kabia cross. Sutton Coldfield came close to an equaliser when Berks played in Wright who lobbed over the advancing Paul Norton but Gary Middleton made a timely clearance. Swann was then booked for kicking the ball away and foolishly argued the decision, which led to a red card. Ilkeston began to take control against the ten men and Lee Saunders broke through only to shoot wide, and then Mark Hallam found himself in the clear but his shot was saved by Parsons.

Ilkeston stepped up the pressure after the break, and following a free kick Gethfield headed the ball back to Hallam whose shot was blocked by Parsons. Sutton Coldfield could have equalised when Norton's poor clearance was seized upon by Wright but the 'keeper redeemed himself with a save. In the 75th minute Taylor clashed with Whitehouse and found himself being landed with a red card to go with his painful injury, thus leaving both teams with ten men. However, Ilkeston's nerves were settled four minutes from time when Hallam put Scott Huckerby clear and he set up Kevin Lampkin to score with a well placed shot. With a minute remaining Ilkeston scored again. Huckerby's lovely pass found Hallam who curled the ball home.

CORBY'S LIGHTNING STRIKES FLOOR ROBINS
20TH AUGUST 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 1 CORBY TOWN 2
Lightning flashed around the ground but Corby stole Ilkeston's thunder by returning home with the points. Ilkeston began strongly with both Mark Hallam and Donovan Gethfield missing chances before some additional entertainment arrived when a Jack Russell invaded the pitch. The Robins continued on the offensive as Lee Saunders cut in from the left and shot into the side net before Hallam headed over a good chance. Corby then issued a warning with a Warner effort that produced a good save from Paul Norton. Ilkeston failed to heed it and Corby took the lead on the stroke of half time. A corner picked out the unmarked Trigg on the edge of the area and he cracked the ball home.

Five minutes into the second half Corby scored again. Hamilton's free kick led to Warner's good control and he shot from 18 yards past Norton. Ilkeston stepped up with Saunders and Steve Williams both shooting wide before another Williams effort hit the post. Batchelor then saved a tame Scott Huckerby header from Saunders' cross whilst Norton did well to save a Bedder effort at the other end. Gethfield, Williams and Kevin Lampkin missed fine chances before Ilkeston gave themselves hope in the 73rd minute. Mark Pennant's corner led to a scramble and the ball was forced in by Huckerby. Ilkeston went in search of an equaliser but the best they could manage was a weak shot by the unmarked Jason Kabia following substitute Mark Clarke's corner.

CARRUTHERS INSPIRES CONVINCING WIN
24TH AUGUST 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 2 RAUNDS TOWN 0
The Robins were good value for their victory, dominated for long spells, and could have won by a bigger margin. They took control from the start, and Lee Saunders found Mark Hallam who headed wide before Steve Carruthers shot wide from a Donovan Gethfield cross. Raunds had a good spell with both Keeble and Green forcing good saves from Paul Norton, but it was Ilkeston who went in front a minute before half time. Saunders broke down the right and his cross picked out Carruthers who shot home.

Raunds put on some pressure at the start of the second half but Ilkeston soon stepped up a gear. Kevin Lampkin's cross from the right was headed wide by Carruthers, and then Carruthers forced a fine save from Fox following a Hallam cross. Gethfield cut inside and curled a shot narrowly over before Ilkeston got a deserved second goal on 73 minutes. A corner fell to Carruthers in a crowded area and he netted with a cheeky back heel. Carruthers came close to a hat-trick when Andy Shaw made a fine run down the left and his cross was headed by Hallam, but Carruthers put the chance wide. 

GETHFIELD OFF AS ROBINS ARE BOROUGHLY BEATEN
31ST AUGUST 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 1 SOLIHULL BOROUGH 4
Dismal Ilkeston were well beaten in an ill tempered game by a physical Solihull team. Town began well enough with Mark Hallam heading a ball from Mark Pennant just wide, and then Donovan Gethfield headed off target following Lee Saunders' great run and cross. But Solihull went in front in the 20th minute after 'keeper Paul Norton fumbled the ball. Coppin put the ball back into the danger area and Myers was left with a simple tap in. Things became doubly difficult for Ilkeston ten minutes later when Gethfield, already on a yellow, was sent off for flattening Palgrave. Dominant Solihull scored their second in the 36th minute with a superb individual goal by Wolsey who ended a fine run by curling a beautiful shot into the net from 25 yards.

The second half began with Coppin missing a great chance for a third goal when he broke clear only to shoot wide, but Solihull soon scored again on 51 minutes. Dolling and Coppin opened up the suspect Ilkeston defence for Wolsey to finish. Town pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when a corner was scrambled away only as far as Marvin Marston who tapped the ball for Dave Robinson to steer home. But any hopes of a revival were quashed in the 79th minute when Myers drove home the fourth through a crowded area.

LATE GOAL STOPS ILKESTON'S SHAW THING
3RD SEPTEMBER 1996
BILSTON TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Dale Wright made his first appearance for Ilkeston and looked set to be on the winning side until Hazlewood headed in a last minute equaliser for Bilston. Steve Williams went off with a suspected broken arm five minutes into the second half but Ilkeston scored three minutes later when Gary Richefond's cross was met by a near post header by Andy Shaw.

TWO OFF AS ROBINS CRASH AT HOME AGAIN
7TH SEPTEMBER 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 3 ROTHWELL TOWN 4
Two Rothwell goals in the space of a minute, suicidal defending plus the sendings off of Mark Pennant and Gary Middleton consigned The Robins to a disappointing defeat. They began well and Dale Wright, unmarked from a free kick, blazed over from 5 yards before they took a 5th minute lead through a superb strike by Mark Hallam. He burst through on the left and unleashed a spectacular shot from 20 yards to give 'keeper Coe no chance. Kevin Lampkin then shot wide but soon Rothwell showed a glimpse of what was to come. Humphrey's powerful shot from the edge of the area and McGuire netted the rebound but it was ruled out for offside. However, the equaliser soon came as Middleton failed to clear a Lord corner and McGuire made no mistake. On the half hour another error, this time by 'keeper Paul Norton, handed Rothwell the lead through Humphrey. Six minutes later Ilkeston were back on level terms. Wright and Gary Richefond saw efforts strike the woodwork before Andy Shaw converted. Pennant received a yellow card for a rash challenge on Waite, and as half time approached the game suddenly moved out of Ilkeston's reach. On 44 minutes Bone beat Middleton's challenge and blasted in Rothwell's third. Moments later, McGuire was left unmarked to score with a far post header. Middleton was then booked for kicking the ball away.

The second half began with Ilkeston having a penalty appeal rejected when Richefond was brought down. Then things grew even worse for Ilkeston when Pennant fouled Weater and was duly sent off, in the 58th minute. Six minutes later Andy Shaw's beautiful curling lob gave Ilkeston hope but this all but disappeared in the 68th minute when Middleton's high tackle on McGuire earned him a second yellow card. Ironically Ilkeston played better with only nine men and Hallam came close to an unlikely equaliser when he headed wide.

GRIFFIN GRABS LATE WINNER
14TH SEPTEMBER 1996
ATHERTON LR 1 ILKESTON TOWN 0 (FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND)
Ilkeston's day began badly when Lee Saunders injured his knee in the warm up, but they still had hopes of making progress in the FA Cup at the expense of their Northern Premier League First Division opponents. After a scrappy opening Ilkeston had the first serious goal attempt when Gary Richefond's spectacular 25 yard volley just missed the target. The home side had a good spell with Gavin forcing Paul Norton into an excellent save, and Cryer's 20 yard shot flew over. When Ilkeston counter attacked Hey was booked for a professional foul on Richefond, and from the free kick taken by Gary Simpson 'keeper Hill could only parry the ball into Andy Shaw's path who hit the post. Hill then palmed away a good Mark Hallam shot following Kevin Lampkin's flick.

Ilkeston began the second half brightly, and they had a goal disallowed. Dave Robinson's header found the net but Hill was adjudged to have been fouled. There were few chances after half time but the home side crucially made one count, five minutes from time. Dale Wright failed to clear the danger and from Cryer's resultant cross Griffin shot home from 15 yards. There was not enough time left for Ilkeston to haul themselves back into the game. 

BYNGO
21ST SEPTEMBER 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 3 RACING CLUB WARWICK 0
The final score flattered Ilkeston and two stoppage time goals gave it a lop sided look. Town edged an even first half after the visitors' Bindley was booked early in the game. David Byng shot wide from 20 yards, and Dave Robinson hit the post as The Robins tried to find a way through without success.

Malcolm Rigby, making his Ilkeston debut, made a couple of vital saves early in the second half before Town made the breakthrough in the 70th minute. Byng burst through the middle and his mishit shot bobbled past Ladkin into the net. The goal boosted Ilkeston and when Gary Richefond played a fine pass to Robinson, his cross found Byng who shot wide. However, Warwick went close to a late equaliser when a neat movement between Draper and Walker set up Finlay for a powerful shot that was superbly saved by Rigby. Then, on 90 minutes, Andy Shaw's thunderbolt was blocked by Ladkin and Richefond netted the rebound to ease Ilkeston's nerves. Three minutes into stoppage time, Robinson broke down the right and his cross led to a scramble in which the referee spotted an infringement. Byng scored the resultant penalty to seal the victory.

25TH SEPTEMBER 1996
CORBY TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 0
No report available.

DUDLEY LAND CRUEL BLOW
5TH OCTOBER 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 2 DUDLEY TOWN 2
An unfortunate stoppage time equaliser robbed Ilkeston of the victory they deserved. The first half had little going for it. Ilkeston's best chance fell to Gary Richefond who broke clear down the right before cutting inside to shoot into the side net from a narrow angle. The most clear cut chance of the half fell to Dudley. Henry Wright found Pigott on the edge of the area with only Rigby to beat but he shot wide.

The second half had both incident and goals. David Byng got clear on the right and beat a couple of defenders before shooting wide, but Byng played a part in giving Ilkeston the lead. His effort brought a fine save from 'keeper Day but Richefond pounced to score from the rebound. However, Dudley soon drew level. Wright turned Donovan Gethfield and laid the ball to Pigott whose cross was powered in by Wright from close range. Ilkeston looked set for a well earned victory in the 79th minute. Andy Shaw got free on the left and his superb cross was headed home by substitute Dave Taylor. But three minutes into stoppage time Dudley were awarded a disputed free kick, taken by Wright. His effort hit the bar and hit Dave Robinson on the shoulder before bouncing into his own net.

ILKESTON HOLD HIGH FLYERS TO DRAW
8TH OCTOBER 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 1 GRESLEY ROVERS 1 (LEAGUE CUP FIRST ROUND FIRST LEG)
Gresley, heading towards the Southern League Premier Division title, were tough opponents and they controlled the first half without scoring.

Future Ilkeston player Gary Castledine finally gave them the lead on 63 minutes but The Robins battled away to equalise in the 74th minute through a fine Steve Carruthers solo goal. Town could have sneaked a late winner when Jason Kabia went close.

GARY'S GRANTHAM DELIGHT
12TH OCTOBER 1996
GRANTHAM TOWN 1 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Grantham had the better of the first half but Ilkeston came back strongly after half time to pick up a deserved point. Ilkeston had the first chance when Dave Taylor robbed Bullimore and 'keeper Bulliman made a fine save to keep out his shot. The home side then put together a period of sustained pressure and Ilkeston had to defend well. On one counter attack Mark Pennant freed Andy Shaw but he wasted the chance to put Ikeston ahead. Instead it was Grantham who tookthe lead on 32 minutes. Neil cut in from the left and his centre was converted by Plummer from close range. The home team could have scored another before half time. Plummer found Grocock and his 25 yard shot clipped the bar.

Ilkeston stepped it up after the break. Taylor's powerful shot just cleared the bar, and then he had a header tipped over by Bulliman after Shaw had back headed the ball into his path. A scrambled goal for Ilkeston levelled the scores. Mark Hallam's header from a corner was stopped on the line, he headed the loose ball against the bar, and then he headed it to Gary Middleton to force home. The Robins missed a glorious chance to win the game late on. Steve Carruthers picked out Hallam who somehow shot over from 2 yards out. 

WOODWORK FOILS ILKESTON
19TH OCTOBER 1996
ROTHWELL TOWN 2 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Ilkeston were left to rue their misfortune after their second half dominance failed to produce the win they deserved. They had the advantage of taking an early lead through Dave Taylor's far post header from a Mark Pennant corner, and then Dave Robinson got in a powerful shot that 'keeper Liquorish did well to block. The game then became scrappy and Pennant was forced to leave the pitch with a bad ankle injury. Lord had a chance to level matters when he broke through and was denied by a good Malcolm Rigby save, but Rothwell did manage to equalise on 35 minutes. A defensive error allowed McDonald to put Beazley through to score from a narrow angle. As half time approached both teams attacked but neither could find a way through.

A frenzied opening to the second half led to Rothwell gaining the lead on 52 minutes. Coe headed back an Orton cross to the unmarked McGuire who headed home from close range. Ilkeston equalised three minutes later, however, when Andy Shaw's corner was scrambled in at the far post by Taylor. Ilkeston then took control and David Byng's shot on the turn was parried to safety by Liquorish. Byng then twice hit the post, the first time being when he was through with only the 'keeper to beat, and the second time with a shot from an acute angle. Rothwell almost stunned The Robins with another goal when Beazley made space and shot from 8 yards only to be denied by a brilliant Rigby save. Ilkeston made almost all of the running, however, but their day was summed up when Byng had a headed goal ruled out for offside. 

TODD ON THE MARK
26TH OCTOBER 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 1 VS RUGBY 0
Ilkeston struggled to impose themselves against the bottom club in what was a sometimes ill tempered game. However, The Robins deserved the win. All the early possession belonged to Ilkeston with Mark Todd glancing an effort wide, David Byng curling an 18 yard shot into the arms of 'keeper Heys, and Todd firing a blistering shot that brought out a fine save. A brawl involving several players broke out following Dave Robinson's poor challenge on Hunt, with Robinson picking up a yellow card as a result. As half time approached Dave Taylor's shot deflected off Jones and was saved by Heys.  

Ilkeston continued to dominate after half time but struggled to break down their stubborn opponents. Steve Carruthers' powerful shot was saved by the diving Heys, and Byng's weak shot was comfortably saved after he was put through by Taylor. The winner eventually came on 74 minutes. A handball by future Ilkeston player Tyrone Mintus led to Todd driving home a low free kick from 25 yards. Rugby had their first worthwhile goal attempt, a 25 yard shot by Mauchlen, saved by Malcolm Rigby, but it was Ilkeston who came closest to a late goal. Gary Richefond's low cross picked out Taylor 2 yards out but he volleyed over the gaping goal.

GRESLEY GRUMBLE AND CRUMBLE
29TH OCTOBER 1996
GRESLEY ROVERS 2 ILKESTON TOWN 2 (LEAGUE CUP FIRST ROUND SECOND LEG - ILKESTON WON ON AWAY GOALS)
Ilkeston's physical and aggressive approach was criticised by many but their never say die attitude helped them pull off an unlikely result to take them through to the next round. Gresley played the better football throughout and but for the fine form of Ilkeston 'keeper Malcolm Rigby they could have had scored the goals to take the tie beyond Ilkeston's reach. Gresley took the lead after just 5 minutes when Andy Shaw pulled down future Ilkeston player Gary Castledine and Hurst scored from the spot. Gresley added a second goal through Marsden after another future Town man, Kevin Allsop had flicked on a corner. Darren Hall was booked for a foul on Castledine later in the first half.

Ilkeston were reduced to ten men after half time when Dale Wright was sent off for kicking out at Allsop. Yet Ilkeston shocked the home side, who were heading for the Southern League title, by scoring the two goals they needed in the last 12 minutes. Dave Taylor started the ball rolling with his goal on 78 minutes before substitute Scott Huckerby took Ilkeston through in injury time.  

ROBINS CLOSE TO AWAY WIN
2ND NOVEMBER 1996
REDDITCH UNITED 1 ILKESTON TOWN 1
An exciting game was controlled by Redditch for the first half hour before Ilkeston took over, but the woodwork prevented The Robins from picking up a valuable three points. Ilkeston were forced to defend well during the opening period and Malcolm Rigby was forced to palm away a Marsh free kick. Yet despite Redditch's frequent attacks Ilkeston always looked dangerous on the break, and Scott Huckerby had an effort ruled out for offside. David Byng had a shot blocked by Laker following Lee Saunders' superb long ball, and Huckerby shot straight at 'keeper Aidey in another Ilkeston attack. A nice Redditch move involving Noakes and a Smith lay off ended with Grosvenor forcing a fine save from Rigby. Shortly before half time, Huckerby put Dave Taylor through but he blasted wide.

Redditch took the lead in the 50th minute when Noakes slid home a Grosvenor cross, but Ilkeston only had to wait for seven minutes before they equalised. Good work by Byng led to Huckerby beating a defender before steering the ball home. Ilkeston looked the likelier winners as Dave Robinson's header hit the bar following Colin Bishop's free kick. Huckerby then had a chance when he was left with only Aidey to beat but he blasted wide, and he later hit the post. Ilkeston hit the woodwork for the third time late on with a Robinson header from Bishop's corner.

MOORE MISERY FOR TOWN IN TROPHY
9TH NOVEMBER 1996
MOOR GREEN 2 ILKESTON TOWN 1 (FA TROPHY SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND)
Ilkeston were knocked out of the FA Trophy by their Southern League Midland Division rivals who lay second in the table. The home side were the better team in the first half but Ilkeston improved as the game went on and could have forced a replay. Hayde, free at the far post, should have given Moor Green the lead but he put the ball against the post. However, they went ahead in the 17th minute when the unmarked Moore headed home a Hier free kick. Malcolm Rigby held a Pearce header from Hamilton's cross, before Ilkeston gifted Moor Green their second. Dave Robinson's poor square ball enabled Donnelly to push the ball past Rigby and Moore got the final touch on 34 minutes. Ilkeston hauled themselves back into the game three minutes before the break. Home 'keeper Lakin spilled Colin Bishop's corner and Dave Taylor's header appeared to cross the line before being handled by Williams. However, the referee awarded a penalty after consulting the linesman, which Bishop converted.

Ilkeston's second half recovery failed to bring an equaliser. Steve Carruthers blasted over from close range, Scott Huckerby brought a brilliant point blank range save from Lakin, and Bishop fired wide from a narrow angle. Moor Green had chances to put the issue beyond doubt. Robinson gave the ball away and Donnelly rounded Rigby but was unable to hit the target, and when Rigby lost possession whilst trying to dribble the ball out of his own area Moore shot wide of an empty net from 25 yards. Ilkeston's last chance of salvaging the game fell to Bishop who shot wide.

JASON'S HAT-TRICK JOY
16TH NOVEMBER 1996
STOURBRIDGE 1 ILKESTON TOWN 3
Stourbridge dominated the match for long spells but they were given a lesson in finishing by Jason Kabia who scored a 20 minute hat-trick. Stourbridge were in complete control in the first half but they failed to make the most of it. Palmer and Voice missed good early chances, Trend's tremendous shot hit the post, and Malcolm Rigby scrambled back to save after his miskicked clearance left Sandness facing an empty net 20 yards out. Town's only chance of note in the first half fell to Steve Carruthers who shot tamely at Lowe when in the clear.

Stourbridge continued to pressure Ilkeston after the break although David Byng issued a warning when he shot wide. The home side didn't take heed and The Robins took the lead on 62 minutes. Colin Bishop's brilliant pass found Scott Huckerby who cut inside and crossed for Kabia to score from close range. Seven minutes later Kabia scored again when he headed home unmarked from Huckerby's cross from the right. Town were now in charge and they made it three in the 82nd minute. Darren Ball's good pass sent Andy Shaw down the right and he crossed to the far post for Kabia to complete his hat-trick. Carl Adams' 20 yard shot flew just wide before Stourbridge scored a consolation goal four minutes from time with a disputed penalty. Ball was adjudged to have fouled Palmer who duly scored from the spot. 

SHAMBOLIC ROBINS CRASH AT HOME
23RD NOVEMBER 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 3 EVESHAM UNITED 4
Schoolboy errors handed Evesham victory on a plate as Ilkeston defended poorly throughout. The visitors took the lead on 11 minutes when Johnstone capitalised on a mistake to blast in an angled drive. Ilkeston tried to get back into the game as David Langstone shot well wide, debut making record signing Paul Eshelby had a shot deflected off target, and Langstone shot feebly at 'keeper Moran after Jason Kabia's shot was deflected into his path. But Evesham continued to create the clearer chances and Dixon twice had close range efforts saved by Malcolm Rigby before half time.

Ilkeston drew level two minutes into the second half through Colin Bishop following Kabia's miskick. Four minutes later, Darren Ball's misdirected square pass allowed Johnstone to put Evesham back in front with a shot from the edge of the box. Rigby then came to Ilkeston's rescue when Langstone's error allowed Haines to get in a shot, before The Robins equalised again with a beautiful Dave Taylor lob on the hour. Evesham regained the lead within seconds, however, when Dixon converted Haines' cross from the left. Ilkeston continued to be their own worst enemies as Suheal Asghar's mistake let in Yates who was denied by Rigby's save. With a minute to go yet another gift enabled Dixon to score Evesham's fourth. Ilkeston scored a consolation goal in injury time when Moran caught the bug but dropped the ball and Taylor scored from close range.    

PLEASURES OF THE ESH
30TH NOVEMBER 1996
PAGET RANGERS 0 ILKESTON TOWN 3 (LEAGUE CUP SECOND ROUND)
Ilkeston won convincingly to progress into the next round and got off to a fine start by taking the lead on 6 minutes when Paul Eshelby turned past a defender before firing powerfully into the net. Paget reponded and Whittingham shot wide from 10 yards but Ilkeston continued to hold the upper hand with both David Byng and Dave Taylor heading wide from good positions. Paget went close to an equaliser before half time when Anifowose's overhead kick just missed the target after his initial shot was blocked by Gary Middleton. 

The Robins dominated after the break. Andy Shaw's goalbound shot hit Jason Kabia, and a Taylor effort was blocked by 'keeper Price. Then Kabia headed just over from a Colin Bishop free kick. The home side had a chance to draw level but Burroughs headed wide from McDonald's cross. Ilkeston eventually made certain of victory in the 75th minute with a superb solo effort by Eshelby who took the ball forward from inside his own half before finishing in style. With five minutes remaining Eshelby ran down the right before playing the ball inside to Kabia who cleverly chipped over the advancing Price. Scott Huckerby came close to scoring a fourth with a 20 yard chip.

ILKESTON FALL TO TEN MEN RAUNDS
7TH DECEMBER 1996
RAUNDS TOWN 3 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Ilkeston slipped to their first away defeat in the league despite the home side having their 'keeper sent off after 20 minutes. The Robins began well and a good move between Dave Taylor and Andy Shaw led to Colin Bishop shooting wide from 20 yards. Hughes then turned away a Paul Eshelby shot before Raunds launched their first serious attack. Malcolm Rigby was on hand to save Beard's shot following Carr's forward pass. What should have been the turning point of the game was when Hughes raced out of his goal and brought down Taylor, and his subsequent red card led to Raunds' prolific scorer Keeble going in goal, but the setback inspired the home side to greater things. They took the lead two minutes later when David Byng missed Beard's cross from the left and Carr finished from 15 yards. Amazingly, the ten men went two up when Mann's shot took a cruel deflection past Rigby in the 34th minute. Ilkeston tried to come back and Taylor's shot from the edge of the area was cleared off the line by Lewis, but Raunds stunned The Robins by scoring again four minutes before half time through Mann from close range. Ilkeston's first half luck was summed up just before the break when Bishop's shot hit team mate Jason Kabia on the line and bounced to safety.

Ilkeston put up a determined fight in the second half and almost came away with a point. Taylor headed Eshelby's cross over from close range, and Dale Wright shot wide after being set up by Eshelby. Shaw's misdirected cross was cleared off the line by Lewis before Ilkeston finally pulled a goal back with nine minutes remaining. Eshelby's cross was headed home by Byng at the far post. The goal led to a prolonged Robins onslaught and Kabia missed from 6 yards following Eshelby's low drive, prior to several further efforts being blocked by the resolute Raunds defence. Town grabbed an 88th minute goal when a good move involving Scott Huckerby was finished by Taylor but it was too late for them to find an equaliser.

TOWN SHARE SPOILS AT SOLIHULL
14TH DECEMBER 1996
SOLIHULL BOROUGH 1 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Ilkeston, for whom John Knapper made his debut when he came on as substitute, were thankful to come away with a point although both teams had chances to win. Town began brightly with a David Byng header being cleared off the line by Abell. Then Houghton's poor clearance fell to Dave Taylor 30 yards out but the 'keeper recovered to save his volley. Ilkeston's pressure paid off on 10 minutes when Dale Wright's free kick was headed home from 12 yards by Byng. Solihull settled and enjoyed the best of the remainder of the first half without any joy. Wolsey fired a free kick narrowly wide, Malcolm Rigby saved from Muir following Dowling's good play, and Wright's error let in Dowling who blasted wide.  

After Dowling shot just wide from a free kick early in the second half, Taylor had a goal ruled out for Ilkeston for pushing. But Solihull continued to look dangerous and Dowling shot just wide after an error by Dave Robinson. The equaliser duly came on 55 minutes when Rigby came out for and missed Muir's cross and Dowling scored with a simple header. Solihull pressed for a winner and Ilkeston escaped two penalty appeals, firstly when Wright appeared to bring down Myers and secondly when the ball hit Byng's hand. A frantic finale saw both teams looking for glory but in the end they had to settle for a draw. 

GREAT SCOTT
21ST DECEMBER 1996
ILKESTON TOWN 4 SHEPSHED DYNAMO 2
Ilkeston, who lost Lee Saunders to a knee injury, ran out deserved winners after edging the first half. Andy Shaw shot wide early on and the same player scuffed his shot after receiving Jason Kabia's square pass from a free kick. Town took the lead on 13 minutes when a clever pass by Kabia was pulled back by Scott Huckerby for Paul Eshelby to steer home amid offside appeals. The remainder of the half produced few openings although Eshelby shot wide from 18 yards, and Peake shot just wide from Hare's cross at the other end.

The Robins stepped it up after the break and soon doubled their lead in the 49th minute when Kabia released Huckerby who clinically slotted the ball home. Then, seven minutes later, John Knapper found Kabia who scored with a superb dipping shot to put the match beyond Shepshed's reach. Nevertheless they pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when Rowe touched on Parkins' cross for Peake to finish. Ilkeston responded with Huckerby grabbing the fourth on 67 minutes, and although Davidson shot wide for the visitors Ilkeston looked the more dangerous with Huckerby twice missing chances to complete his hat-trick. Seven minutes from time a cross from former Ilkeston player Dave King led to Peake scoring a consolation goal with a low shot, before Huckerby missed another opportunity to cap a fine performance.  

McBEAN MACHINE TORMENTS TOWN
28TH DECEMBER 1996
BEDWORTH UNITED 2 ILKESTON TOWN 0
Ilkeston were well beaten on a bone hard pitch and could easily have slumped to a heavier defeat. Bedworth went in front after just 5 minutes when Thomas' free kick deflected off Andy Shaw and McBean forced his header over the line. When David Byng missed his kick Graham broke through but Malcolm Rigby came to Town's rescue by saving with his legs. However, a Rigby mistake almost led to a goal when he fumbled McBean's cross and the ball hit the post. Rigby then saved Wileman's low shot before pulling off a heroic stop from the unmarked McBean following Graham's break down the right. Ilkeston's first real effort on goal came when John Knapper sent Scott Huckerby down the left and his cross rebounded to Dave Taylor who shot over from 20 yards. But Bedworth struck again two minutes before half time when Wileman found Daley who beat two defenders and crossed to Symonds and his touch was finished from point blank range by McBean amid offside appeals. Ilkeston thought they should have had a penalty just before the break when Shaw was brought down but nothing was given.

Ilkeston put on some pressure early in the second half, and 'keeper Starkey pushed Huckerby's fierce shot over the bar. Play then went from end to end before Bedworth regained control. McBean shot over from 8 yards when faced with an open goal, Daley burst forward and shot just wide, and both Daley and McBean missed several chances late in the game. 

FLYING START AIDS CUP PROGRESS
14TH JANUARY 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 2 MOOR GREEN 1 (LEAGUE CUP THIRD ROUND)
Two goals in the opening five minutes sent Town through to the last eight on a slippery pitch. A magnificent low 35 yard free kick by Terry Wilson gave Ilkeston the lead on 4 minutes, and a minute later Dave Taylor's deep cross was knocked into the danger area by David Byng and Paul Eshelby slipped the ball home. Byng then hit the post after latching onto Taylor's long through ball, before Moor Green did likewise with a Marshall volley. Eshelby beat a couple of defenders before shooting just wide, John Knapper ran forward and saw his shot saved by Lakin, and Knapper then made space before firing narrowly wide as The Robins controlled the first half.

Moor Green began the second half well with Moore's angled drive striking the bar but Ilkeston still looked capable of scoring with Lakin making fine saves to deny Eshelby and Knapper. The visitors began to test Ilkeston more as the second half wore on and Mark Wilson produced a good save to keep out a fine shot by Marshall. Then, on 78 minutes, Moor Green pulled a goal back when Seinwright's cross was headed in by Marshall. However, Ilkeston held firm and deserved their victory. 

RIGBY OFF AS INJURIES HIT TOWN
18TH JANUARY 1997
RACING CLUB WARWICK 1 ILKESTON TOWN 1
A bad tempered game ended with honours even and Ilkeston down to ten men. Ilkeston also had two players who received serious injuries. The game began with Warwick applying the early pressure but soon play switched from end to end. David Byng's cross from the left found Dave Taylor whose shot on the turn was blocked by Sullivan before Ilkeston 'keeper Malcolm Rigby made a fine save from Wade's shot. Taylor then missed a good chance when he was put through by Byng and failed to round 'keeper Anstiss, Byng shot wide, and Anstiss saved Taylor's touch from John Knapper's shot after Terry Wilson's free kick was blocked, as Ilkeston had a good spell. Francis' poor challenge on Knapper led to the Ilkeston player being taken to hospital with ankle ligament damage, before Warwick had their best chance of the first half. Frost was clear in the area and shot against the post with Agar unable to force in the loose ball as Dale Wright cleared. Scott Huckerby appeared to be fouled by Tiernan but no penalty was given, and as half time approached Taylor broke his wrist to leave The Robins without two key men for the second half.

Ilkeston pressed strongly after half time and took the lead in the 57th minute with a brilliant Andy Shaw right foot strike into the far corner. The goal signalled a spell of heavy Warwick pressure although Ilkeston looked to sew the game up on the break. Byng twice tried his luck from range, and substitute Simon Grayson fired over a good chance from Huckerby's cross in a move started by Shaw. Warwick thought they had equalised when Frost put the ball intothe net during a scramble but the goal was disallowed. However, they broke through five minutes from time when Rigby dropped the ball and Agar scrambled the ball over the line. Rigby got himself sent off when he threw a punch at Walker in the aftermath, and defender Dave Robinson had to take over in goal. He made a good save from Draper at the death, shortly after Wilson's 25 yard shot just cleared the bar at the other end.

SIMON STRIKES AS MOOR'S NOT THE MERRIER
25TH JANUARY 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 2 MOOR GREEN 0
Moor Green settled the quicker but faded as Ilkeston took control. Town's first effort came from Paul Eshelby who beat a couple of defenders before firing straight at 'keeper Green. Malcolm Rigby then saved Hayde's low shot on the turn before Ilkeston began to dominate. Dave Robinson pushed forward before seeing his shot take a deflection past the post, Darren Ball and Eshelby shot just off target, and a Jason Kabia shot was deflected for a corner following Jason Bowler's free kick. The resultant flag kick was met by a Robinson header that Gillard blocked on the line and Robinson's follow up header was saved by Green. With half time approaching Andy Shaw went on a superb run and his shot was well saved.

Ilkeston continued in the same vein after the break. Ball's shot was bravely blocked by Gillard, and Kabia shot tamely when in space after being picked out by Ball's fine pass. Town finally went in front in the 63rd minute when Eshelby beat a defender before scoring with a well placed shot. Kabia had two shots well saved by Green prior to Town making the game safe with eight minutes left. Scott Huckerby ran along the by line and pulled the ball back for Simon Grayson to score from 15 yards.

DUD DEFENDING COSTS ROBINS VICTORY
1ST FEBRUARY 1997
DUDLEY TOWN 3 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Dreadful Ilkeston defending meant they lost a game they should have won. The Robins were otherwise the better side and they got off to a dream start by scoring after 1 minute. 'Keeper Crannage dropped Andy Shaw's corner and Dave Robinson forced the ball home from point blank range. Mark Wilson pulled off a fine save at the other end to deny Piggott, but Ilkeston remained in control. Jason Kabia was denied by a good Crannage save and then he blazed a chance high and wide. Dudley suddenly equalised on the half hour when Ilkeston failed to clear and Evans fed Hall whose low fierce shot was turned in by Piggott. Paul Eshelby then missed a chance to restore Ilkeston's lead when he only had Crannage to beat.

The Robins began the second half on the attack and when Darren Ball found Jason Bowler his powerful shot was tipped over. David Byng then sent Eshelby away but his chip cleared the bar. But Ilkeston deservedly went back in front on 53 minutes when Grant brought down Kabia and Byng blasted home from the spot. Suddenly Ilkeston's defence looked shaky as Dudley tried to find a way back. Ingram hit the post, Wilson made a fine save from Evans, and when Piggott evaded the offside trap he headed straight at Wilson. The equaliser came in the 63rd minute when Cooper's free kick reached the unmarked Brown who headed home. Seven minutes later a long punt by Crannage caused Ilkeston's defence all sorts of unnecessary problems and Cooper ran on to put Dudley ahead for the first time. Ilkeston tried to come back and Eshelby forced a low save from Crannage after he went past a defender, but Dudley could well have scored again late on when Hall's close range shot was blocked by Wilson.

NO GLORY FOR GLOSSOP
4TH FEBRUARY 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 4 GLOSSOP NORTH END 2 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP THIRD ROUND)
Ilkeston comfortably made their way through to the last eight after O'Connell missed a couple of early chances for the visitors. Jason Bowler's excellent close control and fine finish put Ilkeston ahead on 25 minutes.

David Byng blazed wide from the penalty spot early in the second half but Town only had to wait a few minutes before doubling the lead. A fine move led to Andy Shaw scoring the 55th minute goal. O'Connell scored a goal for Glossop on the hour only for Jason Kabia to restore Ilkeston's two goal cushion a minute later. Simon Grayson netted Ilkeston's fourth on 76 minutes before O'Connell scored his second goal of the night for the visitors.

WARWICK RACING TO THE SEMIS
11TH FEBRUARY 1997
RACING CLUB WARWICK 1 ILKESTON TOWN 0 (LEAGUE CUP QUARTER FINAL)
No report available.

RUGBY TACKLE ROBINS
15TH FEBRUARY 1997
VS RUGBY 2 ILKESTON TOWN 0
Struggling Rugby overcame Ilkeston in an ill tempered match. Ian Robinson, on his debut, Andy Shaw and Dale Wright all picked up bookings and Jason Kabia was sent off. Play went from end to end during the first half. Malcolm Rigby was perfectly positioned to save Tong's shot that deflected off Wright, Rugby 'keeper Davies blocked Kabia's strike from distance, and Terry Wilson's shot was saved low down by Davies. Rugby broke the deadlock in the 35th minute when Wagstaffe beat the offside trap and although Rigby pulled off an excellent save Wagstaffe scored from the rebound.

Ilkeston pressed hard after half time but their task was made doubly difficult on 62 minutes when Kabia received a second yellow for his vicious challenge on Dalton. Wright and Tong were lucky not to follow him when they clashed soon after. Ilkeston continued to do most of the attacking with substitute Scott Huckerby firing wide and Christy McKenzie was denied by a brilliant save from Davies. Rugby killed off the game five minutes from time when Wright committed a professional foul on Owen and somehow avoided a red card. A penalty was duly awarded and Lissamen made sure from the spot.

LATE PEN ROCKS ROBINS
22ND FEBRUARY 1997
MOOR GREEN 2 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Moor Green threw everything at Ilkeston early on but The Robins recovered and looked set to win until the home side scored a contoversial stoppage time equaliser. Malcolm Rigby produced a brilliant save to keep out Russell's close range header, Harrison shot wide from close range, Stirk fired wide from the edge of the area, and a Shepherd shot hit the post as Moor Green laid siege to the Ilkeston goal during the opening stages. However, Ilkeston gradually came more into it and Scott Huckerby beat a defender before sending in a fierce shot that was met by a superb Green save. Paul Eshelby then appeared to have been brought down by Stirk but no penalty was given as the first half ended scrapily.

Town made a dream start to the second half when Mark Pennant's corner was steered home by Huckerby from 6 yards. They then had a stroke of luck when Stirk's free kick hit the post and bounced into Rigby's arms, but fortune was against them soon after. Eshelby cut in and fired a fierce shot against the post, and then Christy McKenzie was brought down but no penalty was given. And, on the hour, Moor Green drew level through Russell's near post flick. Both teams went for the winner and Huckerby was unlucky with a 20 yard shot whilst Pearce's free header was brilliantly saved by Rigby. Ilkeston appeared to have won the game two minutes from time when Huckerby sent Eshelby away who scored with a perfect lob. With the game in stoppage time Dale Wright seemed to be fouled in his own area by Russell, and as the players stopped Russell continued forward until he was pulled down by Tyrone Mintus. The referee controversially awarded a penalty kick, which Russell took himself and scored. Despite Ilkeston's misfortune the result was probably a fair one.

BUCKS CRUSHED
25TH FEBRUARY 1997
BUXTON 1 ILKESTON TOWN 5 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP QUARTER FINAL)
Ilkeston's resounding victory took them through to the semi finals. Paul Eshelby's excellent 25 yard volley gave them the lead on the half hour, but Ilkeston saved their best for the second half.

Town scored their second on 57 minutes when Mark Pennant's corner was headed in by Dale Wright via Buxton's Oxton. Marsh replied with a goal for the home side but Ilkeston scored again in the 73rd minute when another Pennant corner was scrambled home from close range by Jason Bowler. Bowler added another with a close range header from yet another Pennant corner ten minutes from time before Ian Robinson broke clear in the last minute to net the fifth.

TAMWORTH TAMED
4TH MARCH 1997
TAMWORTH 0 ILKESTON TOWN 0
Runaway leaders Tamworth, who had won 24 of their 27 league games and stood 27 points clear at the top, were held at home by an impressive Ilkeston team who matched their opponents. Tamworth's Rowe was the busier of the two 'keepers although the home side probably created the more clear cut chances. Malcolm Rigby pulled off two fine saves shortly before half time. 

STOURBRIDGE HIT BY GOAL BLITZ
8TH MARCH 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 4 STOURBRIDGE 2
Four goals up in no time Ilkeston relaxed their grip but still won comfortably. They took the lead after just 2 minutes when Dale Wright's crossfield pass picked out Scott Huckerby who burst down the left before blasting home. Two minutes later Mark Pennant's corner was scrambled away only as far as Nicky Law whose shot thundered in off the underside of the bar. Town made it three on 14 minutes when John Knapper's lofted through ball released Jason Bowler who cleverly flicked the ball over the advancing Hart. And in the 18th minute, following a corner, Dave Robinson set up Huckerby to chip home from close range. Stourbridge pulled a goal back on 29 minutes when Ilkeston failed to clear a corner and Bywater headed home. As half time approached Huckerby came close to a first half hat-trick when his effort was cleared by Gardiner.

Ilkeston began to reassert themselves after the break. Bowler forced a fine save from Hart, who also made a brilliant save to keep out Paul Eshelby's clever lob. But Town once again began to relax and allowed Stourbridge to build up some pressure. The visitors duly scored on 68 minutes when Bland burst forward from midfield and his fine cross was netted by Grainger. The Robins were in no mood to let the game slip away from them and they ran out comfortable winners.

TOWN PEGGED BACK BY LATE GOAL
15TH MARCH 1997
SHEPSHED DYNAMO 1 ILKESTON TOWN 1
Ilkeston ought to have beaten a Shepshed team that concentrated more on their physical approach than their football. Home 'keeper Selby made a good early save when the ball deflected off former Ilkeston defender Dale Igoe, Dave Robinson blasted a free kick into the wall, and Mark Pennant curled a free kick high over the bar as Town made all the running. Jason Bowler had a chance to put Ilkeston ahead towards the end of the first half when he was put through but he dragged his shotwide.

Ilkeston lost the services of Scott Huckerby early in the second half when he was poked in the eye by Igoe in an off the ball incident, but they remained committed to going forward. John Knapper shot high over from a Paul Eshelby cross, before in a rare Shepshed attack Gretton shot off target. Jason Kabia then headed wide before Town eventually took a 75th minute lead. Eshelby cleverly pulled the ball back for Dale Wright to drive home from the edge of the area. Wright then fired a blistering shot that Selby saved superbly, but Ilkeston were stunned on 85 minutes when Shepshed equalised. Gretton burst forward and although Malcolm Rigby was able to block his shot the ball fell to Akeredolu who slotted home. In the dying minutes Selby saved Kabia's shot from 8 yards at the second attempt.

ROBINS EXPOSE THE WEAKEST HINCK
18TH MARCH 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 4 HINCKLEY TOWN 0
Ilkeston totally dominated the match and won easily. They took the lead on 17 minutes when Dale Wright cut inside and cracked in a powerful drive from the edge of the area. A nice build up ended with Jason Bowler heading a good goal in the 36th minute, and The Robins made it three when John Knapper powered home a shot two minutes later.

Ilkeston remained in charge after half time with Hinckley offering only the occasional threat. A clearance from Nicky Law found Paul Eshelby who went on a long run before supplying Scott Huckerby with a chance that 'keeper Belford punched away. Eshelby later surged forward and fired a shot that Belford could only parry but Huckerby's subsequent overhead kick cleared the bar. However, Ilkeston were not to be denied a fourth goal and it came on 79 minutes via Eshelby's left foot drive from 15 yards.

TOWN TURN PAGET OVER
22ND MARCH 1997
PAGET RANGERS 1 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Ilkeston came from behind and scored a late winning goal in a closely fought game. They began brightly with Jason Kabia heading Scott Huckerby's cross from the right over the bar. An error by Andy Shaw let in Anifowose but Mark Pennant made a vital block to prevent Paget from taking the lead before a long ball out of defence by Nicky Law sent Paul Eshelby on his way only for Parget 'keeper Price to save his shot. Price then got a vital touch to John Knapper's well struck shot from 18 yards and the ball smacked against the bar. Malcolm Rigby twice made good saves to deny Anifowose before Paget took the lead a minute before half time. Rigby's initial save counted for nothing when McDonald powered in the loose ball via the post.

Town came out determined in the second half and after Huckerby shot just wide from the edge of the area they equalised on 52 minutes. Eshelby's corner struck Brown on the hand and the referee awarded a penalty despite Paget's protests. Eshelby made no mistake from the spot, and from one of his free kicks Law sided footed over from 6 yards. At the other end, Rigby saved from Anifowose following McDonald's run and cross from the left, and then Shaw's hesitation allowed Anifowose to burst into the area but his shot was blocked by Gary Middleton. Anifowose then headed wide from a McDonald corner before Ilkeston began to exert some pressure. A poor header fell to Dale Wright but he shot straight at Price. However, with four minutes left, Ilkeston grabbed the winner. Dave Robinson's good pass found Eshelby who jinked inside and fired home. Town had to defend in the dying minutes and Paget almost equalised in injury time when Scott fired a great chance from 12 yards against the post.

BACK FROM THE DEAD
25TH MARCH 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 3 STAFFORD RANGERS 2
The Robins were seemingly heading for defeat against some classy opponents but tremendous spirit saw them home. Stafford bossed the first half and took the lead on 23 minutes when Clifford burst forward and passed to Line who slipped the ball under the advancing Malcolm Rigby. Then, in the 36th minute, they doubled their lead. A corner led to a scramble and when Dave Robinson failed to clear Clifford scored with a back header.

Line almost made it three early in the second half when he rounded Rigby only to see his shot cleared off the line by Nicky Law. However, Ilkeston gave themselves hope in the 54th minute when Simon Grayson ran onto a pass and shot home from a narrow angle. Then, four minutes later, they found themselves level when Andy Shaw's strong run led to Grayson's knock down and a powerful volley into the net by Paul Eshelby. Both teams went all out for a winner and Stafford nearly got it when Wood's point blank range header was magnificently saved by Rigby. Instead, the final word came from Ilkeston three minutes from time. Dale Wright played the ball into the area and from Grayson's knock down Jason Kabia scrambled the ball in to seal a remarkable victory.

LATE CHARGE STILL ON TRACK
29TH MARCH 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 1 TAMWORTH 0
Champions elect fell to only their second defeat of the season as Town maintained their late push for promotion. In a well fought game Tamworth controlled the first half but Ilkeston, showing plenty of grit and determination, shaded it after half time. The first chance of the game fell to Dave Robinson who headed over and who was booked soon after. But the visitors soon got on top and Malcolm Rigby blocked a Hunter effort with his legs, Foy fired a free kick narrowly over, and when Town failed to clear a long ball down the middle Smith found Hunter who shot wide from a good position.

Hunter missed a clear chance from a narrow angle early in the second half but Ilkeston settled and began to gain the upper hand. The winner came on 69 minutes when Mark Pennant's corner was headed home by the unmarked Jason Kabia from close range. Although Ilkeston still had some defending to do they created the better chances as the game entered the closing stages. Simon Grayson's downward header from a Kabia cross somehow bounced over the bar, and Paul Eshelby blazed over a late chance as Ilkeston ran out deserved winners.  
 
KABIA SEALS AWAY VICTORY
31ST MARCH 1997
HINCKLEY TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 2
Ilkeston came away with a deserved three points after playing the better football on a poor surface. Hinckley started brightly before Ilkeston began to take control. Mark Pennant shot wide from 8 yards, and when Gary Middleton's forward ball was cleared only as far as Simon Grayson he shot high over. The Robins took the lead on 23 minutes when John Knapper's superb pass was well controlled by Paul Eshelby before he steered the ball past Belford from 15 yards. Hinckley put on some pressure before half time with the best chance falling to Thompson who shot gently straight at Malcolm Rigby after Pennant missed an opportunity to clear.

Ilkeston gained in authority after half time. Dave Robinson shot wide from 25 yards, and Jason Kabia's shot was saved at the second attempt after he had been set up by Knapper. It was Kabia who grabbed the crucial second in the 75th minute with a cheeky back heel after Nicky Law's long throw fell to him on the edge of the six yard box. Kabia was lucky not to be sent off when he was involved in a scuffle with Belford soon after his goal. Ilkeston thought they had scored another late on when Pennant's corner was converted by Grayson but his effort was ruled out for pushing.

TOWN HELD AS GRAYSON MISSES SPOT KICK
5TH APRIL 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 1 BEDWORTH UNITED 1
Ilkeston's late push for promotion suffered a setback as they were held at home. After an even and entertaining first half, Ilkeston created enough chances to have won the game. The first chance fell to Bedworth when Steer's good pass found Leslie whose tame shot was saved by Malcolm Rigby. Ilkeston responded with a Simon Grayson glancing header that was well saved by the impressive Starkey, and a John Knapper shot from a narrow angle that went just wide. When Rigby made a hash of a clearance he was grateful as Leslie's shot was deflected into his arms, and Beard had a chance to put the visitors ahead before half time when he shot wide following Warner's burst forward.

Ilkeston began to put serious pressure on Bedworth after half time. Their appeals for a penalty when Grayson's shot was handled went unheeded, but when Paul Eshelby was pulled back by Daly as he raced onto a Dave Robinson pass the referee had no option but to point to the spot. However, Grayson's 54th minute penalty was superbly saved by Starkey. After Grayson had another shot blocked Bedworth took the lead completely against the run of play on 63 minutes. Beard latched onto Penny's long clearance and calmly picked his spot. The Robins continued to mount attacks and were unlucky with a Robinson header that hit the bar. A neat move between Jason Kabia and Grayson ended with Eshelby shooting wide before Penny issued a warning at the other end when Penny shot just over. Grayson then found Scott Huckerby who showed good skill prior to shooting narrowly over the bar before Ilkeston finally drew level with five minutes left, Nicky Law's dipping shot from 23 yards finding the corner from a free kick. Although Town went in search of a winner Bedworth almost caused an upset but McBan's shot was cleared by Gary Middleton. 

ESH WONDER GOAL SAVES TOWN
8TH APRIL 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 1 PAGET RANGERS 1
Ilkeston found themselves a goal behind at the end of a dull first half thanks to a 36th minute goal by McCarthy.

From then on it was pretty much one way traffic as The Robins sought an equaliser. Paul Eshelby pulled a great chance wide after he got on the end of a long Nicky Law pass, he shot wide again following good work between Jason Kabia and John Knapper, and 'keeper Price beat away a powerful Dave Robinson header. Price then held an Eshelby shot following a corner, and Hunt cleared a Robinson header off the line. When Robinson's pass opened up the Paget defence Eshelby's resultant shot forced an excellent save from Price. Just when it seemed as if Ilkeston were heading for defeat Eshelby broke clear to score a lovely solo goal with just three minutes remaining. Town went in search of a last gasp winner and Simon Grayson set up substitute Jason Bowler for a header that was grabbed by Price. But only the heroics of Malcolm Rigby saved Ilkeston from defeat in injury time when he saved from Clarke who had broken clear.

ILKESTON MAKE HARD WORK OF REACHING FINAL
10TH APRIL 1997
SANDIACRE TOWN 0 ILKESTON TOWN 1 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP SEMI FINAL)
Ilkeston seemed to be on course for a comfortable passage through to the Derbyshire Senior Cup Final when Dave Robinson scored from close range past former Ilkeston 'keeper Dave Buxton after just 5 minutes. But a sub standard uneven pitch proved to be a great leveller against enthusiastic Central Midlands League Supreme Division opponents and Ilkeston had to fight all the way.

The Robins survived a huge scare midway through the second half when Partington blazed a penalty kick high over the bar.

CLARK SPARKS TOWN TO LIFE
12TH APRIL 1997
EVESHAM UNITED 2 ILKESTON TOWN 4
Ilkeston won comfotably after finding themselves falling behind in a frantic opening. Ilkeston actually took an early lead when Jason Kabia and Dale Wright combined well for Simon Grayson to turn the ball on to Paul Eshelby who struck with his left foot. Evesham quickly equalised when Wright failed to clear Moore's pass and the unmarked Johnstone drove home from close range. Poor defending let Ilkeston down on 12 minutes when Clark was left unmarked 6 yards out to head home Lee's corner. The goal stung Ilkeston into action and they drew level in the 27th minute. 'Keeper Davis failed to claim Eshelby's corner and Grayson headed down for Kabia to nod into an empty net. A brilliant John Knapper volley almost brought further reward but Davis tipped the shot over.

Ilkeston took charge after half time and regained the lead in the 65th minute. Eshelby's corner posed problems and Grayson headed home from 6 yards. A Dave Robinson header was then cleared off the line by Bloomfield, and Kabia broke clear only to shoot into the side net after a defensive error had let him in. Town made certain of victory with a fourth goal late on. Eshelby's fierce shot hit Spalding and bounced to Scott Huckerby who was left with a tap in. 

ROBINSON KEEPS ROBINS IN PROMOTION HUNT
16TH APRIL 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 2 BILSTON TOWN 1
Ilkeston's slim promotion hopes received a boost thanks to Dave Robinson's deserved late winner. After a good Ilkeston opening during which Paul Eshelby burst forward to find Jason Kabia whose shot sneaked wide, Bilston went ahead after 6 minutes. Malcolm Rigby held down Henry Wright as he went to reach Williams' pass, and Wright converted the resultant penalty. Three minutes later, Williams brought down Eshelby and the referee awarded another penalty. Simon Grayson's powerfully struck kick was brilliantly saved by Attwood. Bilston enjoyed the better of the first half with Rigby claiming a Wright header from Whitehouse's cross, before Wright shot tamely wide after cutting inside following Jones' long ball. Love shot over, Rigby saved another Wright effort, and the Ilkeston 'keeper made an even better save from Love's shot. The Robins offered little apart from a Kabia header that just cleared the bar as half time approached.

Ilkeston got the goal they desperately needed two minutes into the second half when Robinson's long ball forward was hooked home from close range by Kabia. The Robins then dominated the second half. Attwood made fine saves to keep out fine efforts by Eshelby and Grayson but he was finally beaten with five minutes remaining. Darren Ball broke forward to find Scott Huckerby whose 30 yard drive was parried by Attwood and Robinson was on hand to score from the rebound. They came close to a third goal near the end when Jason Bowler's shot from distance went just over.

RED ROSE CAN'T STOP ILKESTON
19TH APRIL 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 1 REDDITCH UNITED 0
Ilkeston shaded the first half and dominated the second. But for the excellent form of Redditch 'keeper Rose the winning margin would have been much greater. Redditch should have taken an early lead when the unmarked Mulders headed over from 6 yards, but Ilkeston soon hit their stride. A Dave Robinson header was cleared off the line before Town went in front on 33 minutes. Paul Eshelby went on a brilliant run down the right and his low cross shot was tapped in at the far post by Jason Kabia. The visitors claim close to an equaliser before half time when Giddings' free kick was tipped against the woodwork by Malcolm Rigby.

The Robins controlled the game after the break but couldn't add to the score. Kabia's header was saved in spectacular style by Rose who then turned away a superb curling shot by the same player. Rose then made a brilliant stop to keep out a Robinson thunderbolt, and when Kabia went on a great run down the left and rounded the 'keeper, Noakes got back to clear. Towards the end Robinson burst into the area but his weak shot was saved comfortably by Rose.

GRANTHAM GRILLED BY HUNGRY ROBINS
22ND APRIL 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 3 GRANTHAM TOWN 1
Ilkeston kept their slim promotion hopes whilst putting a huge dent in Grantham's own promotion aspirations with a quality display. Grantham could have taken an early lead when Malcolm Rigby's poor clearance went straight to former Ilkeston striker Dave King but he shot weakly wide. The Robins then took control. Dave Robinson had a shot deflected off target, Jason Kabia shot just over, and when Kabia and John Knapper set up Simon Grayson his shot on the turn clipped the bar. Ilkeston deservedly took the lead on 26 minutes when Nick Law's clearance found Grayson who held the ball up well before supplying Paul Eshelby who scored with a low right foot shot from the edge of the area. Dale Wright then broke forward from midfield and found Eshelby who cut inside past a defender before firing a low shot wide. But Grantham equalised against the run of play in the 36th minute when Mark Pennant handled Parkes' cross and King scored from thespot. Ilkeston temporarily lost their discipline and Wright was booked for pushing Hare whilst manager Keith Alexander received a stern lecture from the referee for letting his feelings known. They then recovered and came close to regaining the lead shortly before half time. From Eshelby's corner Kabia's gentle effort hit the bar and Elliott cleared Grayson's effort from the rebound.

Grantham enjoyed their best spell early in the second half. Rigby pulled off a fine save to deny former Ilkeston defender Craig Maddison who soon had another chance which Rigby was able to smother. Ilkeston then began to regain control and when Kabia found Robinson his shot was blocked. The Robins finally took the lead seven minutes from time after 'keeper Bulliman brilliantly kept out a Kabia effort only for substitute Scott Huckerby to score from the rebound. Jason Bowler then shot narrowly wide after Bulliman had saved a Huckerby shot, before Ilkeston made sure of victory in stoppage time. Robinson played in Kabia who burst along the by line before being tripped. Eshelby put away the resultant penalty.

FOUR-LORN ILKESTON
26TH APRIL 1997
STAFFORD RANGERS 0 ILKESTON TOWN 4
Ilkeston produced a vibrant display of attacking football but learned after the game that Rothwell Town had won 3-2 at Sutton Coldfield to clinch promotion and end Ilkeston's dream. Town took the lead on 11 minutes when Simon Grayson's good work and cross left Jason Kabia unmarked and with an open goal at his mercy. Five minutes later John Knapper broke down the right and crossed for Dave Robinson to drive home the second from 15 yards in his final appearance for the club. 

Stafford's approach became more physical the longer the game went on. King was lucky to only receive a yellow card when he brought down Kabia as he broke clear, whilst Grainger was also booked after kicking out in retaliation at Lee Saunders. Ilkeston made it three in the 70th minute when a free kick led to Grayson forcing the ball home from close range. Grayson scored again three minutes from time, stabbing home from close range substitute Scott Huckerby's wayward shot.

ROBINS END SEASON WITH ANOTHER WIN
3RD MAY 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 2 SUTTON COLDFIELD TOWN 0
Ilkeston, for whom James Whitehead made his debut, ended their league campaign with their 17th game unbeaten in the league. However, the match was a forgettable, mundane affair played on a rock hard surface. The visitors produced a display which perfectly illustrated why they finished bottom of the table. The Robins dominated while being far from their best. The unmarked Simon Grayson headed just wide, Dale Wright shot just over from the edge of the area following a good move, and Grayson shot a good chance wide. Grayson then blasted wide from close range after Jason Kabia nodded down Mark Pennant's cross, and Kabia shot straight at 'keeper Parsons after some good control. The visitors almost took a shock lead when Gary Middleton's misdirected back pass required a fine save from Malcolm Rigby to prevent an own goal, and this led to them showing more ambition. Brown made ground down the right before shooting narrowly wide, and Moore had a penalty appeal turned down.

The Robins regained the initiative after the break. Grayson's header was cleared off the line by Biddle, and Kabia's goalbound shot was blocked by team mate Nicky Law. However, it was Kabia who opened the scoring on 65 minutes with a fine goal. He showed great persistence in retaining possession as he was fouled, the referee played the advantage, and he scored with an accurate shot from the edge of the box. Ilkeston scored again in the 76th minute when Kabia's shot was parried by Parsons and Grayson scored from the rebound. Substitute Franny Green went close to a third goal late in the game with a shot on the turn. 

KABIA KEEPS TOWN ON EVEN KEEL
6TH MAY 1997
ILKESTON TOWN 1 GRESLEY ROVERS 1 (DERBYSHIRE SENIOR CUP FINAL FIRST LEG)
Southern League champions Gresley Rovers looked set to go into the second leg with a lead but Jason Kabia's late equaliser pegged them back. The first half was evenly fought. Dale Wright shot just over following good work by Kabia whilst Malcolm Rigby made a good save at the other end from Futcher's long range shot. Scott Huckerby, Paul Eshelby and Kabia all went close for Ilkeston as the half wore on but Gresley came closer still when future Ilkeston player Kevin Allsop's cross was headed against the bar by Devine.

Gresley stepped up a gear after half time. Marsden shot just wide, Gary Middleton was lucky to only get a yellow card when he tripped Allsop as he broke clear, and Futcher's neat pass found Allsop whose shot on the turn brought a good save from Rigby. It was no surprise when Gresley took the lead on the hour although the goal was hotly disputed. Wardle's pass released Allsop who, amid appeals for offside, crossed to Garner for a simple finish. Ilkeston showed great determination to claw themselves back into the game. Wright robbed Denby before putting his effort just wide, Kabia was denied by 'keeper Goodwin, and Simon Grayson hit the side net. Then, with 4 minutes remaining, Goodwin spilled an Andy Shaw shot and Kabia took full advantage to bring Ilkeston level. Goodwin redeeemed himself with a good save from a Grayson header at the death. 

ROVERS HOLD ON TO LIFT CUP
10TH MAY 1997
GRESLEY ROVERS 2 ILKESTON TOWN 1 (GRESLEY ROVERS WON 3-2 ON AGGREGATE)
A pre-match storm and persistent rain left the pitch very heavy for the players. Ilkeston began brightly and when a long clearance hit Simon Grayson's back the ball fell to Scott Huckerby whose shot took a deflection off Blount to force a difficult save from Goodwin. Dale Wright was then booked for a foul on former Ilkeston player Brian Horseman. Gradually Gresley came more into the game and they took the lead in the 33rd minute when Garner's pinpoint cross was headed in at the far post by future Ilkeston player Kevin Allsop. The home side were now in control and when Blount touched on a corner Garner was off target. However, Ilkeston ended the half well as Jason Kabia found Huckerby who shot over the bar.

Grayson could have equalised for Ilkeston early in the second half when he burst through only to curl his shot wide. The miss proved to be a costly one as Gresley doubled the lead in the 50th minute. Denby played a lovely through ball for Garner to finish. Two minutes later Ilkeston pulled a goal back when Kabia beat Horseman and set up Huckerby to blast home. Town now had the upper hand but despite a series of attacks they were unable to find the equaliser. Kabia's long shot went straight to 'keeper Goodwin, Andy Shaw's shot through a crowd was saved, and when Shaw's cross was punched out weakly by Goodwin the unlucky John Knapper saw his shot hit the bar. Gresley managed to hang on and ended Town's hopes of winning the Derbyshire Senior Cup for the first time in four years.