"We should be proud," says Ilkeston sharp-shooter Gary Ricketts
ILKESTON FC look set to miss out on more play-off glory, but striker Gary Ricketts says they should be proud of their first season in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
The Robins won the First Division South play-offs last season, but they are 11 points outside the top-five in the Premier Division with 13 games left of this campaign.
They face Grantham Town away tomorrow (3pm) and they are six places and 14 points better off than them.
That position underlines the progress Ilkeston are making under boss Kevin Wilson because the Gingerbreads beat them to the First Division South title last season.
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"We are taking the step up after promotion well and making good progress," said eight-goal Ricketts.
"We can be proud of where we finish, especially considering we were bottom of the table in the lead up to Christmas.
"We have put in some performances that have shown we are the real deal and we can compete with the best in the division.
"I will never say never about the play-offs until it is mathematically impossible for us to make it, but we know that is going to be tough now largely because of the start we made.
"But it is all going to stand us in good stead for next season and beyond because now we have seen all the other teams, know what to expect from them and know the standards we have to aim for week in, week out."
The Robins looked to be flying towards the play-offs at the start of the year, after going on an eight-game unbeaten run. But then bad weather hit and after an enforced three-week break from league action, they have not won any of their last four games, drawing against Stocksbridge Park Steels and Ashton United and losing to Stafford Rangers and FC United of Manchester.
"We got to the stage where we felt almost invincible, such was the confidence," added Ricketts.
"The break came at exactly the wrong time and broke up our momentum.
"Since then we have struggled to get back to where we were."