Ilkeston have been involved in more than their fair share of dramatic games this season and Tuesday night in the West Midlands produced another.
Two down at half-time and then 3-1 down having had a man sent off, the Robins fought back valiantly to steal a point in stoppage time thanks to Callum Chettle’s leveller - but that tells barely half the story.
Strange refereeing decisions, open goals missed and woodwork being struck were also on the menu as these two sides echoed a similarly dramatic encounter earlier in the season which Stourbridge themselves stole with a stoppage time winner.
Stourbridge settled by far the better and half chances from Kayeldon Brown, twice, and a Leon Broadhurst free-kick threatened to open the scoring.
Jordan Smith then made a fine stop to deny Brown before Ilkeston’s first effort on goal came on 27 minutes when James Reid’s low cross was scuffed wide by Jake Wright via a deflection.
An even better one followed from the corner as from Wright’s cross, Joe Burgess somehow put the ball wide of the post despite being unmarked 12 yards out.
When the opening goal came it was largely down to poor goalkeeping. Stourbridge broke through midfield and when Jake Smikle’s shot was spilled by Smith, Chris Lait bundled in the rebound on 39 minutes.
The hosts would then double their lead in controversial fashion right on half-time.
A long ball into the box saw Smikle go down under pressure from Burgess but with precious little contact made. Ref Ben Cooke said penalty and debutant Matt Dodd slid thespot kick past Smith.
Ilkeston started the second-half well and after Chettle had burst past two players and threaded the ball through to half-time arrival and Robins debutant Jack Sowerby, his first shot was blocked, his second headed off the line and then Rob Duffy headed over the top.
Sowerby was making quite an impact and he then proceeded to win the penalty that would get the Robins back in the game. He was fouled by Josh Quaynor as he entered the area and Duffy confidently stroked home the spot kick on 51 minutes.
Smith then saved well from Luke Benbow’s shot not long afterwards as Stourbridge broke well, before Fleetwood loanee Sowerby somehow managed to strike a post from close range after the ball came down from orbit following a Duffy header.
It would soon prove costly as Stourbridge netted their third on 61 minutes. Luke Connolly’s ball in from the right somehow missed everyone in an Ilkeston shirt and Brown turned the ball in.
Ilkeston should have made it 3-2 moments later as Sowerby pulled back for Mike Williams whose low shot struck a post and was cleared.
It was proving not to be the Robins’ night and their task was made even harder by a red card. Jack Lane had been booked in the first-half and having gone in robustly but fairly on Lait and won the ball, referee Cooke again angered Robins followers by deciding it was a foul and a bookable offence at that. Off went Lane for his second yellow.
The Robins weren’t quite done, however. A free-kick from deep on 78 minutes found Burgess at the far post and his pull back reached Williams who found the net from 12 yards.
Dodd saw an effort parried by Smith with three minutes to go but the Robins would, having done so at Marine on Saturday, once again steal something from the game in stoppage time.
Duffy nodded a long Burgess cross back to Chettle on the edge of the box and he finished superbly low into the corner to cap a fine personal display.
It was a dramatic end to a remarkable game and deservedly gave Ilkeston a share of the spoils.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015:
Stourbridge: 1 Lewis Solly 2 Junior Smikle 3 Josh Quaynor 4 Kayeldon Brown (Josh Morgan-Parker 77) 5 Drew Canavan 6 Will Richards 7 Luke Connolly 8 Leon Broadhurst (c) 9 Luke Benbow 10 Chris Lait 11 Matt Dodd. Subs not used: Sam Tye, Tyrone Williams, Leon Miles, Dominic Hill
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith 2 Joe Burgess 3 James Reid (Eddy Samba 82) 4 Lawrence Gorman 5 Joe Maguire (c) 6 Jack Lane 7 David Morgan 8 Callum Chettle 9 Rob Duffy 10 Jake Wright (Jack Sowerby 46) 11 Mike Williams. Subs not used: Matt Baker, Danny Gordon, Rai Simons
Ref: Ben Cooke
Star Robin: Callum Chettle