‘One of those games’ is probably the best way to describe Ilkeston’s experience in Leicestershire on Tuesday night as Barwell ultimately took the points.
In a match full of tempo and lively tackles but devoid of much in the way of quality football, it was all about how the young Robins players would cope with a different kind of challenge to those posed in more recent games.
Barwell bite and scratch their way through most games and this was no different, their style even enticing one or two of Ilkeston’s youngsters to throw a few boots in too.
But in the end it was down to Luke Barlone’s 55th minute header to decide things in a second-half that saw a very lethargic Robins side fail to get a grip on proceedings or pose anything like the attacking threat they’ve so often shown they are capable of.
And yet things started so well. After Callum Woodward blazed an early chance too high for the hosts, Ilkeston took the lead on 11 minutes when David Morgan was presented with the ball by an opponent in the centre circle and he threaded through a fine pass to Che Adams who ran on and held off the challenge of two players before finishing superbly.
The Robins had a lead to hold and build on but that scenario only lasted seven minutes.
Joe Maguire concedes more than his fair share of penalties and did so again when he brought Ant Carney to ground on 18 minutes and gave referee Adam Crysell very little choice but to give the spot-kick.
Barwell’s penalties are taken by their goalkeeper Liam Castle and it soon became apparent why. He smashed his effort powerfully down the middle of the goal and high into the roof of net - any goalkeeper looking to get in the way would more likely have been hospitalised.
The Robins were rattled and nearly went behind two minutes later when Jack Lane was well positioned to head an Alex Tomkinson effort off the line after Jordan Smith had failed to claim a cross.
After Adams had seen a shot held by Castle, the Robins saw an effort of their own blocked on the line after good play between Tyrell Waite and Luke Shaw ended with the latter perhaps taking a touch too many before producing a shot that was goalbound but blocked on its way by Eddie Nisevic.
Waite nearly had the Robins in front on the stroke of half-time when he cut in from the left but his eventual shot clattered the crossbar and was cleared.
That was to be about as close as Ilkeston would get to earning all three points, as within ten minutes of the re-start they were behind.
The ball was played back to full-back Scott Lower and he in turn floated an inviting cross to find Barlone 12 yards out and his looping header left Smith a spectator as it found the net via the inside of a post.
Adams nearly had another goal on 63 when his strike from inside the area found the head of Lower on the goal line and the ball was cleared.
Things then turned more feisty with very few further openings created, aside from a late Tomkinson free-kick that was just wide of the mark, and despite the late arrivals of subs Nialle Rodney - on his debut - and Rob Duffy, both were largely anonymous as Barwell stood firm and consigned Ilkeston their first away defeat of the campaign.
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamont (@_CLPhotography)
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