Match report/slideshow: Ilkeston FC 1-1 Trafford

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For a few minutes it looked like Santa had done an early shift and dropped three points through the New Manor Ground chimney.

James Reid’s free-kick broke a frustrating deadlock 15 minutes from time and thoughts of a second successive win were prevalent among the chilly Robins fans.

But then Scrooge dropped by and did his bit, Michael Oates’ late header earning Trafford a point and leaving Ilkeston boss Kevin Wilson lamenting his side’s defensive work at a set piece.

What preceded those events did little to generate much festive cheer for those inside the New Manor Ground, but a third game unbeaten was at least a statistic that will warm hearts around the fireplace over the cold festive spell.

Things started quite well for the Robins who looked lively from the off. A third minute corner was swung in by Matt Richards from the right hand side but Joe Maguire, with plenty of space in the penalty area, put his free header well wide of the target.

Trafford looked comfortable in possession but their main problem in the first-half was the final ball, as crosses tended to elude all interested parties and Ilkeston’s defence also held firm.

Brett Mbalanda was their biggest threat, both in a literal and playing sense, creating some good moments up front but without really threatening Ilkeston’s debutant goalkeeper Ross Etheridge.

It took until the 24th minute for a meaningful shot on goal from the visitors, Shelton Payne too high with an effort from distance.

Richards then beat two Trafford players at the other end before hitting a low effort goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara blocked with his legs, Gary Ricketts unable to turn in the rebound.

Tyrell Waite and Laurie Wilson then both had shots blocked after the ball broke to them in the penalty area, while Che Adams’ powerful run down the right ended with a cross put wide by Ricketts at the near post on the stroke of half-time.

The second-half had a bit more tempo to it but clear chances were still scarce, Waite putting a decent one wide for the Robins and Tom Schofield volleying too high for Trafford.

The opening goal finally arrived on 75 minutes and it was sub Reid, who had been on the pitch for just three minutes, who provided it.

A foul not far outside the right-hand side of the penalty area gave Reid a shooting chance, and his low strike beat the wall and the diving O’Hara to nestle into the far corner of the net.

That really should have signalled a win for Ilkeston given Trafford’s lack of attacking spark in the second-half, but they still wanted something from the game and after Callum Jones had shot wide on 79 minutes, their equaliser soon followed.

That too came from a set piece after a soft free-kick was given away out on the left, and when Andrew Smart floated the ball in, Oates - also on as a sub - got to the ball first to float a fine header over Etheridge and into the far corner. It was Trafford’s first effort on target.

Only Waite’s late and low effort straight at O’Hara threatened a winner after that, as once again the Robins failed to win a league game at home, something which will need addressing if a return to the top five is to be seriously intended.

Saturday, December 21, 2013:

Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Cheye Alexander 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Laurie Wilson (c) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ellis Storey 7 Chey Adams 8 Callum Chettle (Kane Richards 60) 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Tyrell Waite 11 Matt Richards (James Reid 72). Subs not used: Matt Baker, Danny Gordon, Aaron Hooton

Trafford: 1 Kieran O’Hara 2 Stephen Mason 3 Andrew Smart 4 Callum Jones 5 Nia Bayunu 6 Tom Schofield (Chris Palmer 89) 7 Shelton Payne 8 Martyn Andrews (c) 9 Brett Mbalanda (Michael Oates 67) 10 Rory Fallon 11 Paul Ashton (Simon Hackney 60). Subs not used: Dan Meadowcroft, Ali Nsangou Att: 359 Ref: Robbie Dadley

Star Robin: Ryan Wilson

Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)

Photos by Rob Stephenson (Twitter - @sportsphotorob)