Sometimes poor weather conditions can be a great leveller in cup ties and that was certainly the case at the New Manor Ground on Saturday.
Heavy rain throughout the afternoon created a tricky playing surface with patches of standing water hindering both sides’ progress, although Ilkeston’s usual passing game perhaps suffered more than Steels’ direct style of play.
Both goals had an element of controversy about them, particularly Steels’ opener early on which left everyone in the ground bemused at how much of a poor decision it was to allow it to stand, but in the end a draw was perhaps fair given the effort both teams generated in such hard conditions.
The teams will now replay at Stocksbridge on Tuesday night.
It was with the game’s first chance that saw the lead earned by Stocksbridge but it left Ilkeston fuming.
Joe Lumsden tried a shot from 25 yards which took a huge deflection to instead find its way to the feet of Scott Ruthven who looked to be clearly offside. No flag went up, Ruthven controlled and finished low past Evandro Rachoni to the dismay of most in the New Manor Ground.
Lumsden then headed just wide from a right-wing as the visitors continued to cope better with the conditions early on, the areas of standing water causing several problems for players trying to run with the ball.
Ben Rhodes’ deflected shot found Rachoni’s hands on 25 minutes, Ilkeston still failing to create anything in the final third.
That changed on 27 minutes when the excellent Dan Udoh found debutant Lewis Walker 25 yards out but his shot flashed wide of David Reay’s left-hand post.
Steels should have gone ahead on 34 minutes when a free-kick from the left wasn’t cleared and Rachoni saved Rhodes’ shot before Joe Doyle produced a goal-saving to deny Matthew Reay.
Jordan Wheatley then found Walker with a pass down the inside right channel but the young striker could only shoot over from a tight angle having got around the goalkeeper.
Walker then saw keeper Reay dive at his feet to deny him moments later, the Robins going into the break behind after a frustrating half.
Ilkeston started the second-half slowly but Charlie Coulson could have levelled on 56 after being found by a fine pass from Udoh, Coulson cutting inside but shooting wide of the far post.
Ruthven chipped into Rachoni’s hands with a chance entirely created by standing water which didn’t allow Ilkeston to clear their lines, Walker then flicking a Harness free-kick wide at the other end.
Harness himself was next to show, taking a throw from Olly Luto and stinging the hands of the Steels keeper who pushed his effort from 25 yards over the bar.
Coulson similarly tested Reay with a free-kick moments later, again the ball tipped over.
The equaliser finally came on 66 minutes and again there was some controversy. Coulson’s high ball into the box saw both Joe Burgess and Matt Baker challenge the keeper who claimed a foul, play allowed to go on and Burgess stabbing the ball home in a scramble.
Steels weren’t out of it yet though and Lumsden hooked over the bar in a good position on 71 minutes.
Baker then somehow headed a corner wide from a couple of yards out when challenged by the keeper as Ilkeston continued to look more dangerous, although Lumsden then drove a shot straight at Rachoni for the visitors.
Harness again tested Reay with a late effort from distance which was pushed away well, but ultimately the sides will have to do it all again in Yorkshire on Tuesday night.
Ilkeston: 1 Evandro Rachoni, 2 Marcus Harness, 3 Olly Luto, 4 Jordan Wheatley, 5 Matt Baker, 6 Joe Burgess (c), 7 Joe Doyle, 8 Eli Bako, 9 Dan Udoh, 10 Charlie Coulson, 11 Lewis Walker (Lee Ndlovu 68)
Subs not used: Dexter Atkinson, JJ Blake, Curtis Burrows, Jahquil Hill
Stocksbridge: 1 David Reay, 2 Josh Meade, 3 Rory Coleman (Louis Shaw 49), 4 Richard Patterson, 5 Liam McFadyen (c), 6 Matthew Reay, 7 Ben Rhodes (Andrew Fox 80), 8 Harrison Biggins, 9 Scott Ruthven (Lee Garside 78), 10 Joe Lumsden, 11 Corey Gregory
Subs not used: Lee Thompson, Jack Poulton
Ref: M Billingham
Star Robin: Dan Udoh