Ilkeston FC fans would have enjoyed this encounter for a grand total of about three minutes.
When Tyrell Waite nodded the Robins in front from their very first attack 34 minutes in, the visitors’ sluggish start looked like it could have been forgiven.
But once hosts FC United had levelled through Tom Greaves three minutes later, things got back to how they were and the rest of the encounter became a one-sided affair with no doubt about who the winners would be.
The Robins might have fancied their chances beforehand given the nature of the thrilling 3-3 draw at the New Manor Ground against United just six weeks earlier, but at no point did they show anything like the resolve they did on that occasion.
With Ilkeston outnumbered in midfield and toothless going forward, the writing was on the wall as United opened strongly, Matty Wolfenden’s shot from outside the box well tipped over by Ross Etheridge in the Robins goal and then Callum Byrne shooting wide from distance.
Adam Jones and Byrne then saw further efforts well dealt with by Etheridge as United continued to dominate.
Then, out of absolutely nowhere, Ilkeston suddenly jolted into life and opened the scoring on the only occasion they got into United’s third of the pitch during the first-half.
Gary Ricketts did well to release Kane Richards down the right and his first time cross was turned home six yards out by Waite to stun all in attendance.
The lead didn’t last very long. Within three minutes United had won a corner down the right and when Etheridge could only half clear an initial header, Mike Norton’s shot was decisively deflected home via Greaves - scorer of two goals as a sub in January’s encounter.
Byrne shot straight at Etheridge just before the break, but it was the six minutes after the interval that would see the game decided once and for all.
The hosts were in front on 48 minutes as Liam Brownhill was allowed time and space to cross from the right and the ball somehow reached the far post where Jerome Wright was on hand to score from close range.
Three minutes later it was 3-1 as Norton sent Greaves through on goal and he finished well into the corner of the net to effectively end any hope Ilkeston might have had of recovery.
That belief was aided by the fact that the Robins just weren’t getting enough ball to threaten the United defence, despite the efforts of Callum Chettle in midfield whose work rate was far better than most of those in blue.
When the ball did reach Ricketts up front it usually found its way back to a United player straight away, while Waite seemed isolated despite managing the Robins’ only other shot of the game from a narrow angle which keeper Dave Carnell pushed away.
At the other end, Jones saw a header from a corner cleared off the line, just, by sub Matt Richards, but the game was put to bed once and for all from the penalty spot on 79 minutes.
The decision to award the penalty was more than questionable, defender Tom Davies going to ground despite barely a caress from Joe Maguire as he made his way out of the 18 yard box, but referee Elizabeth Simms called it a foul and Wright stepped up to stroke home the fourth goal.
It would be the final nail in Ilkeston’s coffin on a day where there was precious little to be enthused about from a Robins perspective.
Saturday, February 22, 2014:
FCUM: 1 Dave Carnell 2 Liam Brownhill 3 Adam Jones 4 Dean Stott (c) 5 Tom Davies 6 Charlie Raglan (Lee Neville 66) 7 Matty Wolfenden (Nelson Mota 83) 8 Callum Byrne 9 Mike Norton (Astley Mulholland 80) 10 Jerome Wright 11 Tom Greaves
Subs not used: Joe Fox, Matt Walwyn
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Akil Wright 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Laurie Wilson (c) (Chey Adams 83) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ellis Storey 7 Kane Richards 8 Callum Chettle 9 Gary Ricketts (Rai Simons 67) 10 Tyrell Waite 11 James Reid (Matt Richards 62).
Subs not used: Matt Baker, Mike Williams
Ref: Elizabeth Simms
Star Robin: Callum Chettle
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (@sportsphotorob)