There hadn’t been a match full of drama involving Ilkeston for a while.
After several humdingers earlier in the campaign, matches had become more sedate in the winter months, but this one was mostly a thriller once a relatively dull first half-an-hour was out of the way.
There was ultimately disappointment for the Robins as sub Tom Greaves’ second goal in the dying moments saw his side steal a point, but Ilkeston had performed well and again given much cause for optimism.
That opening period saw mainly half chances threaten each goal, United’s David Birch and Ilkeston’s James Reid and Chey Adams with shots that were either well off target or gathered by the goalkeeper.
FC’s Tom Davies headed a corner narrowly wide on 34 minutes, but not long afterwards the visitors took the lead with a delightful goal as a one touch move involving Greg Daniels, Mike Norton and Matty Wolfenden set Daniels in on goal and he finished well past Ross Etheridge.
But whatever Kevin Wilson said to his troops at half-time did the trick, as within the first three minutes of the second-half Tyrell Waite twice beat his man to get the to byline and pull the ball back - his first attempt being blocked but another foray moments later ending with Reid back-heeling Waite’s low ball into the six-yard box past goalkeeper David Carnell.
Reid should then have put Ilkeston ahead on 57 minutes when Cheye Alexander burst down the right and found the incoming Reid in enough space to have been able to sit down, have a cup of tea, chat to the fans and still get up to score, but instead he rushed his effort which flew wide of the target.
United’s Greaves had been introduced as a half-time sub for the unwell Norton and proved a handful throughout, first seeing a header into the net disallowed for offside and then skewing a shot wide in a good position.
Charlie Raglan headed just too high from a corner for the Rebels on 69 minutes but four minutes later Greaves would get his first goal, latching on to Daniels’ through ball and sliding the ball past Etheridge.
Ilkeston’s response was almost immediate. Within two minutes Ryan Wilson got forward down the left and sat a cross up which was palmed out by Carnell but only as far as Reid at the back post who volleyed back into the opposite corner to restore parity.
That signalled a thrilling final 15 minutes or so, Greaves next to threaten with a header just over the top from Astley Mulholland’s cross.
The Robins were soon in front for the first time, however, as Reid’s left-wing corner found stand-in skipper Joe Maguire at the back post, and after his first effort was blocked he smashed the rebound into the roof of the net to set the New Manor Ground alight.
Reid’s free-kick was then nearly turned into his own net by Liam Brownhill, while substitute Matty Walwyn forced Etheridge into a good save at the other end.
Waite and Matt Richards saw half chances go close after good breaks forward, but the hammer blow came as the game entered stoppage time and again it was a one-on-one situation, Greaves again set up by swift and incisive passing and firing low into the net to ensure the points were shared.
Saturday, January 4, 2014:
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Cheye Alexander 3 Ryan Wilson 4 Callum Chettle (Ellis Storey 69) 5 Joe Maguire (c) 6 Matt Baker 7 Chey Adams 8 Matt Richards 9 Gary Ricketts (Aaron Hooton 90) 10 Tyrell Waite 11 James Reid. Subs not used: Danny Gordon, Mike Williams, Rob Peet
FCUM: 1 David Carnell 2 Dean Stott (c) 3 Liam Brownhill 4 David Birch 5 Tom Davies 6 Charlie Raglan 7 Matty Wolfended (Nelson Mota 71) 8 Greg Daniels 9 Mike Norton (Tom Greaves 46) 10 Callum Byrne 11 Astley Mulholland (Matt Walwyn 78). Subs not used: Joe Fox, Lee Neville
Att: 974 Ref: Ben Cooke
Star Robin: James Reid
Report by Mark Duffy (@DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (@sportsphotorob)