If ever there was a game of two halves, this was it.
Ilkeston, stupendously bad in the first-half, emerged after a roasting from boss Andy Watson at half-time to be far more their usual recent selves in the second to secure their fourth league win in a row and rise to sixth place in the table, overtaking opponents Hyde in the process.
Throw in a red card, the unexpected appearance of Ilkeston’s new kit, some intriguing goalkeeping and an unsightly melee after the final whistle that saw the Robins’ club photographer knocked out cold, and it all made for something of a lively afternoon for those present at a very chilly New Manor Ground.
Ilkeston began the game in a sloppy fashion, giving the ball - and several free-kicks - away far too easily.
Hyde’s Scott Spencer fired into the side netting five minutes in before Lee Neville’s low free-kick was gathered on the goal line by Ilkeston keeper Evandro Rachoni and Ayrton Bevins shot high and wide from a good position.
High drama then followed which brought the game suddenly to life. Bevins and then Spencer both claimed fouls in the penalty area which referee Andrew Hendley turned down. In then opting to book Spencer for simulation, the incandescent Hyde players surrounded the official and in the melee, Ilkeston’s Mike Williams was sent to ground by Hyde’s Reece Gray who was promptly sent off.
It was an incident that played a big part in creating the tempestuous undertones present for the rest of the afternoon.
Rachoni then bizarrely opted to leave an up and under from Neville and nearly paid for it as the ball hit the foot of his right-hand post and rebounded off the Brazilian for a corner.
Moments later, Bevins had two chances, his first cleared off the line by Matt Baker and his second saved by Rachoni.
The hosts were creating precious little, Jordan Wheatley’s cross narrowly missing the head of Lee Ndlovu on 37 minutes and a very poor first-half from the Robins coming to an end soon afterwards.
The second-half was a different story. Ilkeston began the strongest and they should have taken the lead on 54 minutes when Marcus Harness broke forward but put his shot wide when it looked easier to score.
However, Harness would make amends moments later with the assist for the opening goal. He found space on the right hand edge of the penalty area and his cross was headed home superbly by Ndlovu.
The second goal followed six minutes later and it was largely down to a rush of blood from keeper Wilczynski. He wandered out to claim a Charlie Coulson free-kick from out wide but Ndlovu comfortably got there first and eased the ball into the path of Dan Udoh who rolled it home for 2-0.
Udoh cracked an effort from 25 yards soon afterwards but Wilczynski was equal to it, Olly Luto then firing a good chance past the post and Udoh heading a Coulson cross straight at the keeper.
Hyde were now the team struggling to create anything, hampered no doubt by their numerical disadvantage but also Ilkeston’s reaction to their own poor first-half display. Andy Pearson headed a Ben Jago free-kick too high but they were struggling to make in roads.
Coulson forced Wilczynksi into another save on 77 before Hyde made things a little more nervy for Ilkeston on 88 minutes with a goal back, as a set piece wasn’t dealt with by goalkeeper or defence and the ball fell to Jago who put the ball in the net.
Hyde then put plenty of pressure on the hosts, throwing everything at them in the closing stages, and it was from a late United corner that Ilkeston’s third goal would come as the Robins counter-attacked and Ndlovu set up Udoh to finish well and secure the points.
The final whistle soon followed but merely triggered some angry exchanges between the two sets of players and management staff, culminating with Ilkeston’s club photographer being knocked unconscious after becoming unintentionally embroiled in the shenanigans, and although he soon recovered the whole incident left a sour taste in the mouth after what had been an intriguing game of football.
Ilkeston: 1 Evandro Rachoni, 2 Marcus Harness, 3 Olly Luto, 4 Jordan Wheatley, 5 Matt Baker, 6 Joe Burgess (c), 7 Joe Doyle, 8 Mike Williams, 9 Dan Udoh, 10 Charlie Coulson, 11 Lee Ndlovu
Subs not used: Curtis Burrows, Lewis Walker, Eli Bako, JJ Blake, Jamie Hannis
Hyde: 1 Ed Wilczynski, 2 James Burke, 3 Lee Neville, 4 Andy Pearson, 5 Spencer Harris (c), 6 David Birch, 7 Sam Fitton (Ryan Ellison 80), 8 Ben Jago, 9 Scott Spencer, 10 Ayrton Bevins, 11 Reece Gray
Subs not used: Josh Broadbent, Shane Killock, Grant Spencer, Big Khamsuk
Ref: Andrew Hendley
Star Robin: Dan Udoh