The fact Ilkeston FC are top scorers in the Evo-Stik Premier Division is probably just as well.
Such is the unpredictability of their defence, which continues to leak too many goals, this match in which the Robins played well and largely controlled throughout still ended up being decided by the odd goal in five rather than by a wider margin that probably should have occurred.
But the outcome was nevertheless three points and that put smiles back on faces after three defeats in the previous four matches.
It had started very badly. Stocksbridge’s first attack saw James Reid’s poor clearance fall to Danny South and after he and Aaron Webster had cuddled for a bit on the byline, Webster then brought the Steels man down for a penalty which Nathan Joynes rolled into the net after just three minutes.
The Robins then took control. First Matt Richards curled an effort wide from 25 yards out, before his cousin Kane profited from a mistake at the back by Brett Bowden-Lovell to take possession and finish well past keeper Jack Ward to level the scores 11 minutes in.
Kane Richards then flicked Reid’s corner wide on 21 minutes and shortly afterwards Ilkeston took the lead when Reid received the ball back following another flag kick and this time his superb cross was met by Joe Maguire whose majestic leap and header saw the ball find the top corner of the net.
It seemed Ilkeston would then go on to make this look easy, and indeed they should have gone 3-1 up when the Richards duo linked up again, Matt’s excellent through ball finding Kane who attempted to go around Ward but the keeper managed to snatch the ball from the striker’s feet.
South forced Lloyd Allinson to tip a header over the bar at the other end and Gary Ricketts was close for Ilkeston from Danny Gordon’s cross, before the hosts hauled themselves back on level terms on 37 minutes.
A free-kick from the half way line was headed back across goal and defender Nick Swirad arrived to nod over Allinson who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.
At half-time it looked like this was going to be another game full of goals and incident but in the event only one more goal would follow and it arrived less than a minute into the second-half.
Ilkeston got forward straight from the kick-off and when the ball fell to Kane Richards in the area he couldn’t quite get his shot away, but Gordon arrived to pick up the pieces and stabbed an effort towards goal which deflected over the keeper to put the visitors in front.
It was then a question of Ilkeston killing the game off, but they couldn’t do that and as a result Steels always posed a threat.
Some of Ilkeston’s attacking football was great to watch and Reid from distance, Ricketts and the Richards cousins all went close to a fourth, while Steels’ Joynes had three headers all threaten the goal but either go wide or be well dealt with by Allinson.
Maguire - watched by his brother Harry, the Sheffield United defender - then nearly notched his second on 79 with a hooked shot just wide.
But despite James Knowles’ deflected shot forcing Allinson into another stop late on the Robins had indeed done enough, even if they might have wished for, and deserved, a slightly less tense second-half.
Saturday, October 5, 2013:
Stocksbridge: 1 Jack Ward 2 Liam Royles 3 Ben Turner 4 Nick Swirad 5 Brett Bowden-Lovell 6 Will Senior (c) 7 Matt Hamshaw 8 James Knowles 9 Danny South (Chris Bettney 70) 10 Nathan Joynes 11 Chris White (Alec Denton 86). Subs not used: Lewis Akeister, John Travis, Stephen Hoyle
Ilkeston: 1 Lloyd Allinson 2 Matt Baker 3 Aaron Webster (c) 4 Danny Gordon 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ellis Storey 7 James Reid (Jason Stokes 83) 8 Callum Chettle 9 Gary Ricketts (Aaron Hooton 83) 10 Kane Richards 11 Matt Richards (Che Adams 90). Subs not used: Akil Wright, Mike Williams
Att: 260 Ref: P Hodskinson
Star Robin: Callum Chettle
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
All photos by Rob Stephenson (Twitter - @sportsphotorob)