Sat 30th March 2024 – Northern Premier League

Ilkeston Town  2  Bradford Park Avenue  2

Ilkeston came from 2-0 down to take a point from relegation threatened Bradford. The game started slowly but eventually came to life and in the end the result could have gone either way. 17 years old Koby Eratt-Thompson made his Ilkeston debut and his performance drew praise from manager Ian Deakin.

Ilkeston had the better of the opening exchanges but without causing Bradford too much anxiety. Liam Loughlan drew a save from Kieren Flavell, then Tom Cursons fired wide after being found by Lindon Meikle. It took Bradford 30 minutes to produce an effort on goal and they should have scored but  Matthew Yates did incredibly well to stop Adrien Thibaut’s point blank header. The  near miss saw the tempo increase and Bradford had another good opportunity when Jordan Preston had his effort blocked. Ilkeston went close when a great save from the visiting keeper denied Cursons at the back post before his follow up was also kept out. Just before half time Bradford took the lead through Thibaut. Jake Daniels cross was met by Thibaut’s close range header which Yates did well to block but the Bradford striker was alert enough to follow up and get the ball over the line.

The visItors started the second half well but it was ilkeston who created a chance for Callum Minkley which was saved by Flavell. Bradford were soon to double their lead though through a great finish from Edy Maieco who glided past two defenders before unleashing a fine effort from the edge of the area. Ilkeston made a flurry of changes in a bid to rescue the game and Cursons had a fine header saved by Flavell. With Ilkeston in the ascendancy it wasn’t long before the pressure told and the ever dangerous Cursons got one back with another superb header on 68 minutes. Flavell then made a brilliant save at full stretch from Connor Dixon  Cursons with a great turn and shot was next to be denied by Flavell but a goal was imminent. The equaliser came direct from a Declan Eratt-Thompson corner which curled in at the far post. Bradford were forced to change tactics to try to get the win they needed which made for a frantic last ten minutes. A Bradford effort went over the bar then Jaiden White went close for ilkeston. Bradford nearly grabbed the winner when the out-rushing Yates was beaten to the ball and saw the looping header almost go in. Then in added time Minkley’s header from Tom Marshall’s cross nearly won it for Ilkeston but was inches too high.

Written by John Attewell

Photo by John Rhodes