MANAGERLESS Rugby Town produced their best performance of the season so far to stun Northern Premier League side Ilkeston 3-2 at the New Manor Ground and progress through to the next round of the FA Cup where they will meet Lincoln United, writes Craig Webb.
With the resignation of Gary Mills just 24 hours earlier, hopes of providing a cup upset in the first round of qualifying was not at the forefront of fans minds who had made the relativey short trip up the motorway.
The returning Niall Cooper made his first appearance of the season in goal to become the fourth goalkeeper Town have used already this campaign as caretaker boss Craig Adams named a familiar side with Callum Whiteside on the substitutes bench after his call up from the youth team.
Town though made the worst possible start when the home side scored within two minutes.
Cooper enthusiatically came out of his area to challenge the onrushing Lee Ndlovu, but the Ilkeston front man quickly went past the keeper and his shot trickled over the line from 15 yards out.
Ilkeston did not stop there having chance after chance within the first ten minutes causing much anxiety among the Rugby defence.
Striker Charlie Coulson, Matt Baker and Ndlovu again should have extended their lead in the early stages but Rugby weathered the storm and managed to pull level on 34 minutes.
Steve Towers robbed the ball off JJ Blake and put David Kolodynski through. The Rown strker went to the byeline before passing back to Towers whose shot from 15 yards out struck Baker on its way past the Brazilian goalkeeper Evandro Rachoni.
Bouyed by the decent showing the first period, Rugby went into the lead midway through the second half.
The tricky and dangerous Callum Powell played in Kolodynski who showed great composure to wrongfoot the defender and score past the helpless Rachoni.
Rugby were going wild with anticipation that this could be their big day out but they were dealt a blow when in the 77th minute Michael Williams headed the highest in a crowded penalty area from Harness’s perfectly delivered cross.
However the visitors were not to be denied their place in the next round and scored the winner with just eight minutes left.
A huge goal kick from Cooper found Kolodynski, and the in the confusion of trying to head the ball clear defender Joe Doyle inexplicably headed the ball behind and past Rachoni who was stranded on the goaline.
Ilkeston moved everyone up in the final few minutes but could not get past a solid Rugby defence and the final whistle brought wild celebrations from the fans who witnessed a cracking performance also watched by the Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, whose son Gavin manages Ilkeston.