Ilkeston Town began their pre-season schedule with a 2-0 defeat at home to Carlton Town on Saturday.
There were 456 at the New Manor Ground to see the game, Ilkeston’s first since being crowned NPL Midlands champions back in April.
The Robins began on the front foot, forcing some early corners but unable to trouble the Carlton keeper Mike Emery.
And on seven minutes it would be the visitors who would take the lead, as Brad Wells was freed in the penalty area and his shot found the net via the hand of Saul Deeney.
Chances were few, as you might expect from an opening friendly, although Jamie Ward volleyed into the side netting on 25 minutes when in space inside the penalty area.
Ward was then inches away again moments later, heading Billy Bennett’s cross just past the post when in space 12 yards out.
Ilkeston were having the lion’s share of the attacking play and when a corner wasn’t cleared on 38 minutes, a deep cross found Montel Gibson whose looping header came back off the crossbar and the ball was cleared.
The second-half saw most of the Robins team changed to give valuable early minutes to everyone and to cast an eye over a couple of other trialists being looked at by boss Martin Carruthers.
An early second-half chance for Carlton saw former Robin Aaron O’Connor sent clear but he rounded Tomasz Bukowski and found the side netting from a tight angle, albeit with the help of a deflection.
With very few chances again being created, it was the visitors who got the second goal on 74 minutes as Niall Hylton was found in the penalty area and finished low into the net.
Ilkeston were offering very little in attack, Zak Goodson driving low at the goalkeeper on 85 minutes after cutting inside 25 yards out.
And that would be the last opening of the game as the visitors saw things out to take the early pre-season honours.
Ilkeston first-half: Deeney, Trialist, Bennett, Willock, Trialist, Bradley, Wakefield, Trialist, Gibson, Campbell, Ward
Ilkeston second-half: Bukowski, Thomas, O’Hanlon, Trialist, Willock, Bird, Troke, Trialist, Brown-Hill, O’Grady, Goodson
By Mark Duffy