Russell and Simmons help Ilkeston to cup glory
Bermuda duo Antwan Russell and Lejuan Simmons have helped UK non-league side Ilkeston FC to a double cup triumph.
Simmons, formerly of Devonshire Cougars, bagged a brace in Ilkeston reserves’ 8-1 thumping of Bromsgrove on Monday night to lift the Central Conference Cup.
There was more cup glory for Ilkeston the following night when the their senior side, featuring both Russell and Simmons in the squad, defeated Matlock 2-1 to claim the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
Ilkeston seemed to be heading for defeat after falling behind to a 68th minute goal by Lewis McMahon, but two goals from substitute James Reid sealed the victory. Kevin Wilson, Ilkeston’s coach, said he was delighted with his team’s cup performances.
“We showed tremendous character. I’m sure the Matlock lads thought it was won last night, but we dug in and what a fantastic result it was for us in the end,” said Wilson.
“Our goalkeeper kept us in it at times, but the lads also had the belief to keep going.
“This is great for us, with two trophies in two years at senior level — and we might just come back next year and see if we can retain it.
“I’m just delighted for everyone at the club, including the younger players, for whom it’s exciting times, the supporters and the chairman Dave Mantle. The key is now that we can’t rest on our laurels — we have to keep building. It means a lot to me and everyone.
“People talk about Ilkeston Town — and that’s what the Derbyshire FC originally put on the match tickets — but we are not Ilkeston Town now.
“That club has gone. We have a new club now and in case people didn’t realise, I can tell them Ilkeston FC is alive and well.”
Hood striker Russell, 26, has scored three goals since joining the Derbyshire-based side until the end of the season.
He opened his account in only his second appearance for the Robins, coming off the bench in their 2-2 draw with league leaders North Ferribly United last month.
Russell, a Toronto FC trialist, then scored twice in his side’s 4-0 win over Whitby Town last week.
Simmons, 20, has also been among the goals, scoring a hat-trick to help Ilkeston reserves reach the Central Conference Cup final with a 4-0 win over Burton Albion.
Simmons and Russell joined Ilkeston as part of an official partnership between the English non-league club and Bermuda Hogges. The mutually beneficial agreement could see as many as five young Bermuda players join the club’s fully-fledged Academy each season.
Ilkeston’s commercial director Nigel Harrop is a former Bermuda resident, while their manager Wilson was a strike partner of ex-Hogges coach Kyle Lightbourne’s at Walsall.