Josh Craddock’s header with literally the last touch of the match saw Rushall Olympic steal victory at Dales Lane on Tuesday night.
In another dramatic finale involving Ilkeston FC, Craddock struck in the fifth minute of stoppage time, despite only three having been signalled, with the referee blowing the final whistle as the hosts celebrated the goal.
It had been another Jekyll and Hyde performance from Ilkeston, with spells of good attacking play interrupted by individual errors and ill discipline.
After a quiet opening 20 minutes the Robins took the lead when Aaron Hooton was fouled by goalkeeper Chris Gemmell, who only received a yellow card due to covering defenders, and despite Gemmell then pushing away Hooton’s penalty kick, Laurie Wilson reacted to net with a diving header from the rebound.
Half chances for Ilkeston’s James Reid and Matt Richards were closest to making it two, whilst Rushall’s Carl Palmer was inches away from an equaliser on the stroke of half-time with a shot just wide.
The leveller did come on 51 minutes and it was a horror show for the Robins and in particular Chris Palmer, whose poor header back to Rob Peet was intercepted by Ahmed Obeng who stole in to round the keeper and score into an empty net.
Five minutes later the hosts led as veteran Dele Adebola only just beat the offside trap to finish low past Peet.
The drama was far from over. With 20 minutes to go Ilkeston restored parity when a long ball was flicked on by an Olympic defender and Hooton controlled well before lobbing Gemmell for a fine equaliser.
Wilson nearly scored his second when Gemmell fell while watching his cross but the ball bounced inches wide of the target, and after Palmer’s free-kick and Reid’s low shot both went close, Wilson’s game ended early when he was red carded for lashing out on the touchline, an offence spotted by the assistant referee.
And any hopes Ilkeston had of seeing out the remaining minutes a man down were dashed in the final seconds, as Craddock found space to nod home a corner and send the home team into ecstasy.
Rushall: 1 Chris Gemmell 2 Kyle Haynes (Jimmy Turner 85) 3 Matty Wood 4 Tom Eckersley 5 Mitchell Tolley 6 Gavin Caines (c) 7 Carl Palmer (Zak Martin 89) 8 Josh Craddock 9 Dele Adebola (Dave Walker 87) 10 Ahmed Obeng 11 Lee Downes. Subs not used: Luke Bottomer, Stan Mugisha
Ilkeston: 1 Rob Peet 2 Rob Kozluk 3 Chris Palmer 4 Laurie Wilson (c) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Aaron Webster 7 Kane Richards 8 James Reid 9 Gary Ricketts (Jason Stokes 90) 10 Aaron Hooton (Danny Gordon 90) 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: Ellis Storey, Callum Chettle, Antwan Russell
Att: 186 Ref: G Taylor Star Robin: Matt Richards
Report by Mark Duffy
All photos by Rob Stephenson (www.robertstephensonphotography.co.uk)