Stafford Rangers 2 Ilkeston FC 4
Ilkeston produced more late drama to seal three points at Stafford on Saturday, just days after two injury-time goals had defeated Buxton.
The Robins deserved the win but again did it the hard way, each side having a man sent off and a late Stafford equaliser looking like it had earned them a point before Gary Ricketts and Kane Richards struck in the dying moments.
Ilkeston had been the better side throughout against a Rangers side beaten in all of their games so far.
Early half chances for Stafford’s Michael Lennon and Darren Bullock were dealt with by keeper Rob Peet and James Reid’s effort was too high at the other end, but Reid’s corner on 14 minutes was then met by a powerful header from Aaron Webster which found the corner of the net.
Webster was inches wide with another header moments later, but a catastrophic equaliser was then gifted to the hosts as Rob Kozluk left the ball for a goalkeeper who was nowhere near him and after Lennon’s shot was saved, Danny Quinn looped in a header to make it 1-1.
Parity in terms of both goals and players lasted just six minutes, however, as Antwan Russell was sent sprawling on his way to goal by Andy Mason who was sent off, and from the free-kick Webster’s shot took a huge deflection off Lucan Spittle to wrong foot Jon Brain in the Rangers goal.
No more chances came until the second-half as Ilkeston took control, Laurie Wilson’s stinging volley flying just too high, Ricketts’ effort cleared off the line after he’d rounded Brain and then Aaron Hooton firing wide when he should have scored after cutting inside.
Ilkeston’s Joe Maguire then saw red for a second bookable offence on 74 minutes but initially Rangers looked unlikely to capitalise.
That was until the 88th minute when Alex Steadman did well down the right before squaring to fellow sub Jon Sheldon who netted from close range.
Ilkeston looked to have blown it, but enter Bank Holiday hero Ricketts once again as he powerfully headed home Reid’s 90th minute corner despite cries of handball from the home defence - video footage eventually confirming it was head rather than hand which made contact with the ball.
And the win was wrapped up right at the end when Brain got in a complete muddle when dealing with a back pass, was dispossessed by Kane Richards and the young winger gleefully smashed the ball into an empty net to round off another remarkable encounter for the Robins.
Saturday, August 31, 2013:
Stafford: 1 Jon Brain 2 Andy Mason 3 Oliver Davies 4 Lucan Spittle 5 Darren Bullock 6 Chris Flynn (c) 7 James McCarthy 8 Martyn Jackson (Jack Langston 67) 9 Danny Quinn (Alex Steadman 78) 10 Michael Lennon (Jon Sheldon 65) 11 Fabrice Kasiama. Subs not used: Peter Heler, Adam Alcock
Ilkeston: 1 Rob Peet 2 Rob Kozluk (Matt Richards 60) 3 Ryan Wilson (Danny Gordon 74) 4 Laurie Wilson (c) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Aaron Webster 7 Kane Richards 8 James Reid 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Antwan Russell (Aaron Hooton 67) 11 Chris Palmer. Subs not used: Matt Baker, Callum Chettle
Att: 431 Ref: Joe Simpson Star Robin: James Reid
Report by Mark Duffy
All photos by Rob Stephenson (www.robertstephensonphotography.co.uk)