Late drama denies Robins a point

Gary Ricketts goes close to putting Ilkeston 3-2 in front. Below, Alex Ford makes it 1-1 and Aaron Hooton hits a dipping volley that was saved (bottom photo). Pictures by Rob Stephenson.
Gary Ricketts goes close to putting Ilkeston 3-2 in front. Below, Alex Ford makes it 1-1 and Aaron Hooton hits a dipping volley that was saved (bottom photo). Pictures by Rob Stephenson.

Blyth Spartans 3 Ilkeston FC 2

A controversial penalty in the dying seconds cost Ilkeston a well-deserved point on Saturday as hosts Blyth Spartans ultimately claimed all three.

Alex Ford makes it 1-1. Photo by Rob Stephenson.

Alex Ford makes it 1-1. Photo by Rob Stephenson.

Robert Dale appeared to have had minimal assistance as he went to ground following a challenge by a combination of Joe Maguire and Jack Watts, but referee Mr Dicicco instantly pointed to the spot and Joe Kendrick hammered the penalty home in the third minute of stoppage time.

It was a pity the game ended in such a fashion because what preceded the late drama was an entertaining and open affair that could have gone either way.

Blyth started well, Lee Mason a threat with a couple of early chances before he played a part in the opener on 11 minutes.

His cross eventually found its way to Richard Slaughter on the right, and when he put the ball in the box it ran to Stephen Turnbull who fired low into the net.

Aaron Hooton hits a dipping volley that was saved. Photo by Rob Stephenson.

Aaron Hooton hits a dipping volley that was saved. Photo by Rob Stephenson.

That woke Ilkeston up and Matt Richards, whose cousin Kane was also a starter, began to pull the strings as usual. First he broke forward before seeing his blocked shot fall to Aaron Hooton who fired wide, then he crossed for Maguire to head over.

James Reid’s half volley from distance was well held by keeper Connor Grant, but the equaliser would duly arrive on 25 minutes when Matt Richards’ low ball in from the left was turned home by Alex Ford six yards out for his first Robins goal.

Matt Richards for Ilkeston and Blyth’s Dale and Dan Maguire both threatened before the break, but the sides went in level.

That soon changed early in the second-half. After Reid and Hooton had both gone close to putting Ilkeston ahead, it was the hosts who in fact took the lead when Dale’s excellent ball in from the right was met by Maguire’s diving header that gave Chris Martin in goal little chance.

Maguire then nearly made it 3-1 but was just wide from the edge of the box, and sure enough parity was restored within moments when Reid got to the byline before sitting the ball up for Hooton to first of all have a header blocked on the line but then follow up to net the rebound.

The Robins should then have gone in front when Ford, one-on-one with Grant, opted to square for Kane Richards rather than shoot, but by the time the ball got to the winger Damon Mullen was able to get across and deflect his shot into the side netting.

The sides traded chances from then on, sub Gary Ricketts, Jack Watts and Hooton with good openings for Ilkeston and Andrew Jennings forcing Martin into two good saves at the other end, but then came the late drama that would decide the contest and leave the Robins facing a long trip home empty-handed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blyth: 1 Connor Grant 2 Richard Slaughter 3 Damon Mullen 4 Joe Kendrick 5 Wayne Buchanan (c) 6 Stephen Turnbull 7 Robert Dale 8 Neal Hooks (Craig Hubbard 84) 9 Phil Airey (Stephen Jennings 68) 10 Dan Maguire 11 Lee Mason. Subs not used: Jordan Mellish, Jack Stanger, Tom Berj

Scorers: Turnbull 11, Maguire 54, Kendrick 90+3pen

Ilkeston: 1 Chris Martin 2 Dan Partridge 3 Greg Pearson 4 James Reid 5 Joe Maguire 6 Russell Cooke (c) (Rob Kozluk 78) 7 Kane Richards 8 Jack Watts 9 Aaron Hooton 10 Alex Ford (Gary Ricketts 62) 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: James Cullingworth, Kieran O’Connell, Russell Peel

Scorers: Ford 25, Hooton 56

Att: 326 Ref: M Dicicco (Sunderland)

Star Robin: Matt Richards

by Mark Duffy