Ilkeston came away with a slightly fortunate point from Nantwich on Saturday but one which was enough to confirm their play-off place.
Despite having started the game in the best possible fashion, they didn’t really get into gear for the remainder and Nantwich will perhaps have felt unlucky not to have ended their campaign with three points.
But the long trek to Workington is now Ilkeston’s reward on Tuesday night to face a side who have scored five without reply against the Robins in the last month.
Ilkeston got the perfect start with a goal that came from their first attack. James Reid was fouled 25 yards from goal in a central position and having dusted himself down he fired low to the left of goalkeeper Terry Smith and into the net.
The Robins had started very well and Reid then drilled a ball across the face of goal a few minutes later with nobody on the end of it, Rob Duffy’s similar effort moments later winning a corner.
Nicky Platt posed Nantwich’s first threat on 11 minutes, a low shot blocked on its way to goal by a defender, but they would level six minutes later as a fortunate deflection saw the ball find Steve Jones and he squeezed the ball past Jordan Smith and in at the near post for 1-1.
Jones then cut inside moments later before forcing the Robins’ Smith into a save, then Duffy headed wide from a corner at the other end.
Andy White tested Smith with a low drive as both sides looked interested in grabbing the lead, PJ Hudson’s header also straight at the Robins keeper.
The game went a bit stale until the break, only a weak shot from Jones the best either side could muster and the teams went in level at half-time.
Joe Burgess let fly early in the second-half for Ilkeston but saw his shot parried away by Smith in the Nantwich goal, Reid then trying again with a free-kick, this time out wide, but the ball drifting past the far post.
Jones was Nantwich’s biggest threat and once again he forced Ilkeston’s Smith into a save on 62 minutes, the same player firing over the top after the resultant corner wasn’t cleared.
Nantwich looked more likely to net a winner, Sean Cooke firing a free-kick straight at the keeper and then sub Liam Shotton seeing a goalbound shot blocked by his own player.
Jones fired a piledriver just wide of the post with eight to go, then Burgess nearly put past his own keeper but his deflection forced Jordan Smith into a fine block, Mat Bailey’s shot from the corner also cleared in something of a panic by the Robins defence.
The Robins finally threatened in the 90th minute, sub Jake Wright bursting through and seeing Terry Smith save his shot with his legs, Reid’s follow up too high.
But the whistle soon blew to end the contest, and with Blyth having lost to Marine, the Robins’ trip to Workington was confirmed.
Nantwich: 1 Terry Smith, 2 Mark Jones (c), 3 Andy White, 4 Mat Bailey, 5 Ben Harrison, 6 Elliot Osborne, 7 PJ Hudson (Brandon Mighten 76), 8 Nicky Platt, 9 Harry Clayton (Liam Shotton 73), 10 Sean Cooke, 11 Steve Jones
Subs not used: 14 Mark Winslade, 15 Shaun Dowling, 16 Jon Moran
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith, 2 Mitch Rose, 3 James Reid, 4 Joe Burgess, 5 Joe Maguire (c), 6 Jack Lane, 7 Eli Bako, 8 Callum Chettle, 9 Rob Duffy, 10 Kane Richards (Jake Wright 65), 11 Mike Williams (Jack Watts 74)
Subs not used: 12 Matt Baker, 15 Jack Sowerby, 17 Curtis Burrows
Ref: S Mather
Star Robin: Jordan Smith