Ilkeston took another step nearer the relegation trapdoor with this defeat at home to Nantwich but that only tells half the story.
Three down with 20 minutes left and almost entirely out of the game, a stirring finale saw them pull two goals back, strike a post and nearly salvage the most unlikely of points.
In the end, however, Nantwich held on and the reality of relegation being just around the corner was again what the Robins were left to face.
The match was played on a pudding of a pitch thanks to torrential rain before the game, there being a strong chance it would be postponed at one point in proceedings but the referee happy that it should go ahead.
For the most part, Ilkeston would have rued that decision as they struggled to get a foothold but their final flurry will at least have given them some heart ahead of what will be a tough few weeks ahead.
Matt Bell’s first minute effort was easily gathered by Robins keeper Dale Eve, but it would be Bell who would open the scoring with the next clear chance eight minutes in.
The Robins defence failed to clear their lines from a Dabbers attack and the ball fell to Bell ten yards out who was able to fire the ball low into the far corner of the net.
Bell fired straight at Eve as the pair’s personal duel continued 18 minutes in, John Johnson then heading into the side netting after a cross to the back post by Ibou Touray.
Town’s dominance paid off further on 22 minutes with their second goal. Johnson found space on the left and swung in a fine cross from which Tom Peers glanced a header past Eve and into the net.
It was then 3-0 on 33 minutes when Bell’s corner from the right found the head of skipper Sam Hall and the ball found the net to end the game as a contest.
Anthony Dwyer nearly pulled one back for the Robins with their first effort on target, his header from Luis Rose’s cross straight at keeper Daniel Gyollai.
The Dabbers were queuing up to score, full-back Andy White’s long range strike deflected onto the post five minutes before half-time, the break coming with Ilkeston failing to have made any impression.
Nantwich continued to control things early in the second-half, Joel Stair’s shot cleared off the line following a corner ten minutes in, Charlie Scanlon then blocking a Johnson goalbound shot with the visitors claiming he did so with his hand.
Ilkeston were again putting plenty of effort in and got a reward on 72 minutes. There was a bit of luck involved as Dwyer’s shot should have been easily gathered by Gyollai but instead the Hungarian let the ball slip through his grasp and his legs and it was a goal back for the hosts.
Suddenly Ilkeston had a new lease of life and they proceeded to get another goal ten minutes later, Dwyer pouncing on an error at the back to square to sub Ben Morris who finished well.
Seconds later it was nearly all square, as another sub, Tom Gamblen, saw his low shot strike a post and the ball escaped to safety.
Dale Eve parried a Johnson effort at the other end as Nantwich tried to reinforce their authority, but at the other end Jaylon Bather was just wide with a strike after Dwyer had again laid the ball off.
That would be their last chance of a pulsating final few minutes, as Nantwich saw the game out to continue their strong push for a play-off place.
Ilkeston: 1 Dale Eve, 2 Max Thornberry, 3 Charlie Scanlon, 4 Dante Leverock, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Jaylon Bather (Connor Paine 87), 7 Luis Rose (Tom Gamblen 80), 8 Danny Gordon, 9 Tevahn Tyrell (Ben Morris 46), 10 Anthony Dwyer, 11 Reece Horne
Subs not used: Ryan Head, Jamie Hannis
Nantwich Town: 1 Daniel Gyollai, 2 Andy White (Ryan Brooke 65), 3 Ibou Touray, 4 Joel Stair, 5 Ben Harrison, 6 Sam Hall (c) (Josh Hancock 50), 7 John Johnson, 8 Wayne Riley, 9 Tom Peers, 10 Matt Bell, 11 Joe Mwasile (Steve Jones 46)
Subs not used: Vinny Mukendi, Sean Cooke
Ref: Philip Hardisty
Star Robin: Anthony Dwyer