Ilkeston FC 1 FC United of Manchester 1
Joe Maguire struck a second-half equaliser as Ilkeston earned their third league draw on the trot at the New Manor Ground on Saturday.
A point each was probably a fair outcome after an entertaining encounter, though United will perhaps feel a little more aggrieved having missed good opportunities to win the game late on.
For the Robins, a draw would have been an acceptable offering to them before kick-off and it did, at least, mean they weren’t bottom of the table come 5pm given Stocksbridge’s win at Kendal.
United had the better of the opening stages and after Dave Birch had fired just too high from the edge of the penalty area on six minutes, they took the lead just four minutes later.
A good passing move ended with Mike Norton feeding Nicky Platt and his low shot went under keeper Chris Martin and into the net to please the 350 or so FCUM fans behind the goal.
Nothing much happened for the next ten minutes or so as midfield became the main battleground but an equaliser so nearly arrived on 22 minutes.
A corner from the left was met by Laurie Wilson whose back heel was headed against the underside of the crossbar by a defender before the ball dropped just in front of the line and was volleyed away.
The Robins came close again five minutes later as great work by Daryll Thomas down the left saw his ball across goal reach right-back James Cullingworth on the edge of the penalty area, his half-volley going just wide of the post.
The teams traded chances before the break, Chris Amadi, Platt and Norton going close for United while at the other end Jack Eades couldn’t quite turn in Matt Richards’ cross from a very tight angle and Gary Ricketts’ header was held by keeper James Spencer despite the United man advancing dangerously backwards towards his line in the process.
Thomas was first to show in the second-half, cutting in from the right and seeing Spencer push his effort wide for a corner, while United’s Lee Neville headed just past the post moments later.
Platt then missed a great opportunity to equalise on 69 when found in space by sub Kyle Jacobs. He had plenty of time to pick his spot but ultimately his low shot was saved by Martin’s legs and cleared.
And it would prove costly as the Robins levelled on 73 minutes. A corner from the right was headed across goal by Russell Cooke and then knocked down by Ricketts to where Maguire was able to lash home from 12 yards out.
United then looked the bigger threat in front of goal but wasted their opportunities.
Birch was just wide from 25 yards, Mathew Carr headed at Martin from a corner, Neville mis-kicked horribly from close range when unmarked at the back post and then, four minutes from time, an unmarked Norton met Neville’s right-wing cross six yards from goal but his header struck the foot of the post and the danger was cleared, ensuring a point each would be the final outcome.
Ilkeston: 1 Chris Martin 2 James Cullingworth 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Joe Maguire 6 Russell Cooke 7 Jack Eades (Jack Watts 80) 8 Matt Richards (c) 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Daryll Thomas (Jordan Smith 76) 11 Greg Tempest. Subs not used: Greg Pearson, Aaron Hooton, Joe Wilcox
Scorer: Maguire 73 FCUM: 1 James Spencer 2 Dean Stott 3 Jake Cottrell 4 Dave Birch (Cedrick Krou 84) 5 Adam Jones (c) 6 Mathew Carr 7 Chris Amadi (Kyle Jacobs 67) 8 Nicky Platt 9 Mike Norton 10 Greg Daniels 11 Lee Neville. Subs not used: Louis Horne, Phil McGrath, Matthew Tierney
Scorer: Platt 10 Att: 1,015 Ref: Geoff Law (Leicester) Star Robin: Matt Richards
by Mark Duffy