Duffers’ Diaries: Contrasting draws keep promotion race alive

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This week’s column comes to you from Knutsford Services on the M6 as I head home from seeing Ilkeston draw 2-2 at FC United of Manchester.

It was a cracking encounter which despite being appallingly refereed probably had the right outcome in the end, the Robins earning a point they’d no doubt have taken if it was offered beforehand.

The promotion race is a fascinating one and Ilkeston remain very much part of it, a result like that showing they remain a match for anyone in this division.

United are top for a reason but still look beatable to me and are bound to get picked off by at least one team in the remaining games, so those behind are going to have to be ready to capitalise and that certainly includes the Robins.

The average age of the starting line-up on Tuesday was 19.7 - emphasising further that a top three spot at this stage is incredible.

All of this came after a very frustrating weekend.

I’ve said many times before that I’m always hesitant to criticise a young side but by their own standards the performance in Saturday’s game with Grantham wasn’t acceptable.

To be unable to put a game like that to bed when the opposition had ten men for most of it was very disappointing.

The second-half was particularly poor as there were very few occasions where I really felt the Robins had any kind of control of it.

The manner of the draw was frustrating, of course, given the equaliser came with virtually the last kick, but three points would have papered over a large number of cracks.

Thankfully, a lot of faith was restored in Manchester.

The next two games look winnable on paper and are away from home too which might be a blessing.

Don’t be fooled by Marine’s league position as they’ve picked up some good results since changing their manager and could well mount a great escape if that kind of form continues.

Stourbridge also look beatable but nicked a 4-3 win at the New Manor Ground early in the season so will fancy doing the double.