Northern Premier League

Ilkeston 1

(Ben Morris)

Hednesford Town 2

(George Carline, Ashley Sammons)

*Game abandoned after 85 minutes due to floodlight failure

Attendance: 332

New Manor Ground

When my girlfriend said she had to go and babysit her little sister in Nottingham for the week, my first thought was great, I can have five days of uninterrupted trekking around watching football. What didn’t come to mind was that I would have to join her for the ‘mini-holiday’.

Once I got my shifts covered I was straight on the computer to see what football Nottingham had to offer. Having already been to Meadow Lane (Notts County) and the City Ground (Nottingham Forest) I was interested in finding some obscure Non League teams to go and watch.

I had to pick wisely however as I would be without my car and I couldn’t rely on lifts as what girlfriend wants to wake up their little sister to drive to some dark corner of the East Midlands to pick me up from a football match.

Forest were playing Arsenal in the EFL Cup but that had sold out before I even knew the game was on. So my next option was Ilkeston, tier seven and about six miles from where I was staying, easy enough with a regular bus service.

The game had a little more personal interest as I went to school with visiting striker Danny Glover and also knew goalkeeper Lloyd Ransome from his days with the Port Vale youth team.

So off I went on the number two from Wollaton to Ilkeston. I was impressed with the bus service, free Wi-Fi and relatively comfortable, nothing like I remember from the last time I had to get a bus anywhere.

I arrived in Ilkeston way earlier than expected (6pm). The ground was about 15 minutes from where I got off the bus and having walked past a pub clearly signed ‘Last pub before the football ground’ I carried on walking anyway. Having seen the ground and the fact that no one was around 90 minutes before kick off, I went back to The Little Acorn pub for a pint of…lemonade (yes hard core I know but I have never been into this drinking culture before the match).

Back to the stadium I went and I was genuinely excited for the game (the thought of some new grounds was the main reason for heading to Nottingham in the first place!).

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The Ground

On entry I was very impressed, first impressions were that my dad would like this ground and secondly I wouldn’t mind coming back if I was ever back in the area.

Having entered the ground in the corner, it is quite a cosy enclosed place, covered standing behind the goal directly to my right stretched the whole width of the end and also included a small club shop. Down the right wing there was a long single story clubhouse, with a bar, tables, snack window the lot.

Behind the other goal there was more covered standing but classic terracing with steps with bars to lean on.

The far left corner directly in front of where you enter the stadium is what makes the New Manor Ground unique. The tunnel is up the corner and above is a big clock, simple but I was amazed with the look of it. Above the tunnel/changing rooms is some raised seating where I decided to take in the action.

Along the near touchline, there is another small, seated stand but the dugouts obscure the view slightly, however this didn’t discourage a small percentage of the crowd.

This ground is pretty neat, for a club that have been embroiled with financial difficulty in recent times they have a home that they have cared for and should be proud of.

The Game

Floodlight failure with five minutes left to play caused the Northern Premier League encounter between Ilkeston and Hednesford Town to be abandoned.

Goals from George Carline and Ashley Sammons looked to be giving Hednesford an easy three points on the road before substitute Ben Morris pulled one back for The Robins with ten minutes left on the clock.

A complete blackout caused the referee to call the players back into the changing rooms before the decision to abandon the fixture was confirmed after a few minutes of trying to get the lights back on.

Ashley Sammons was causing all kinds of issues for Ilkeston in the opening moments of the game but he couldn’t find the target with a couple of wayward efforts.

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Mark Shelton then had a great chance for the home side when forced a good save from Dan Crane who pushed the ball out for a corner.

Sammons was having plenty of chances in front of goal and he casually put a shot wide from Jamie Matthews’ cross before firing over moments later after picking up the ball on the edge of the box.

Anthony Dwyer was left checking his studs when a Pitmen defender slipped over allowing the Ilkeston striker a free run at goal but Dwyer also ended up on the deck before he could get anywhere near shooting range.

Hednesford did break the deadlock before the break on 39 minutes when Matthews crossed from the right wing and Sammons was on hand at the back post to head into the goal after out jumping his marker.

Dwyer was by far the biggest threat for the home side but he had to watch his shot whistle helplessly wide from the edge of the box as they tried to force an equaliser before the break.

Carline nearly doubled his side’s lead just before the interval but his close range effort was bravely stopped by the stomach of Robins defender Matt Baker to keep the score at 1-0 at half time.

After the restart Ross Durrant made a great save to deny Matthews from inside the box to keep his side within touching distance. Ilkeston made a double change as David Jones and Rhys Dolan came on to try and get the equaliser. But on 55 minutes Hednesford doubled their lead through Sammons when he converted a low cross to put some daylight between the two sides.

Ilkeston were being wasteful with possession causing groans from the terrace as Hednesford looked very comfortable as the game went into the final moments.

The hosts did have a small spell of pressure and it paid off when substitute Ben Morris smashed in a bullet shot low into the corner after the ball found the player on the edge of the box.

Five minutes later with the visitors on the attack, the stadium was engulfed in completed darkness when the floodlights failed. The referee called all players back to the changing rooms and after a few glimmers of hope the game had to be abandoned with the score at 2-1.

2016/17 Games: 31

2016/17 Grounds: 30

Total Grounds Visited: 168

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