Football fans know well that for every two or three games which prove to be well worth having attended, you get the odd one that makes you wish you’d stayed at home.
This encounter fell into the latter category as Ilkeston struggled to break down a resolute Stafford defence, the visitors claiming their first point on the road this season.
The quality of the game was in stark contrast to the clash between the two sides back in August, where two red cards, six goals and a dramatic last few minutes left everyone breathless.
The Robins struck the crossbar twice in quick succession during the second-half but that was about as close as they came to nabbing a valuable three points as their mini-blip continued.
The first-half had been sleep-inducing stuff with very few notable efforts on goal.
Bermudan Lejaun Simmons saw a shot deflected wide five minutes in after Ryan Wilson’s cross had found him via Aaron Hooton, while Hooton himself saw a header go well wide from a corner 15 minutes later.
Danny Gordon had a free header go over the top on 27 minutes although in fairness to the youngster, Wilson’s cross was just a little too high for him to make a telling connection.
The closest either side came in the opening period was right on half-time, as Stafford’s Sean Kinsella crossed to the back post but Tom Morris was at too narrow an angle to head the ball on target and it instead found the side netting.
The second-half was better in terms of goalscoring opportunities but Ilkeston’s ball retention was generally poor and made for frustrating viewing.
Just three minutes into the half Rangers had a glorious opening when James McCarthy sent Kaiyne Woolery through on goal but Ilkeston keeper Lloyd Allinson atoned for errors in previous games with a fine block to deny the Stafford man one-on-one.
Louis Harris tested Allinson from distance moments later but the shot was saved at the second attempt, while Hooton had an effort blocked after making space in the area.
Striker Simmons was a lively customer throughout the second-half and he engineered the best of the openings from this point on.
First he dragged a shot well wide in a good position, then some fancy footwork took him into the penalty area but instead of passing or striking an effort with his left foot, he shot with the outside of his right and the ball went horribly wide.
The sign it wouldn’t be Ilkeston’s day came on 71 minutes, when more great skill from Simmons saw him enter the penalty area but after his curled shot had hit the underside of the crossbar, sub Jason Stokes’ follow-up volley suffered the same fate and Rangers cleared.
Simmons had another low shot saved by keeper Jon Brain a few minutes later, the ball then cleared by Morris as Stokes closed in to once more try and score from the rebound.
Joe Maguire executed a fine tackle to deny McCarthy at the other end, but aside from a half chance for Morris late on that went well wide of the target, neither goal would be threatened again as Stafford held on for a welcome point.
Saturday, November 16, 2013:
Ilkeston: 1 Lloyd Allinson 2 Jamie Anton 3 Ellis Storey 4 James Reid 5 Joe Maguire (c) 6 Matt Baker 7 Kane Richards (Jason Stokes 66) 8 Danny Gordon (Callum Chettle 82) 9 Aaron Hooton 10 Lejaun Simmons (Antwan Russell 90) 11 Ryan Wilson. Subs not used: Akil Wright, Che Adams
Stafford: 1 Jon Brain 2 Jason Beardsley (Joe Guest 70) 3 Darren Chadwick 4 Tom Morris 5 Darren Bullock (c) 6 Jermaine Johnson 7 Kaiyne Woolery 8 Matt Burke 9 James McCarthy (Dan Cope 76) 10 Sean Kinsella 11 Louis Morris. Subs not used: Jack Lees, Scott James, Adam Alcock
Att: 553 Ref: Chris Ward
Star Robin: Lejaun Simmons
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (Twitter - @Sportsphotorob)