Grantham Town 1 Ilkeston FC 1
An inability to convert enough chances into goals once again haunted the Robins on Saturday as Deon Meikle’s late equaliser denied Ilkeston victory.
The draw seemed to mean a lot to the struggling hosts, perhaps out of relief as much as anything else.
For Ilkeston, it meant five games without a win and more frustration on the road, the win at Eastwood on Boxing Day the last time they claimed three points on their travels.
The first-half was, by and large, dreadful. Each side had mostly half chances to break the deadlock as a difficult pitch and lack of general invention dictated a poor spectacle.
It was the 16th minute before a serious opportunity arose, Ilkeston’s Alex Ford doing well down the left before crossing for Matt Richards eight yards out but he couldn’t get a good contact on his header and the ball went wide.
James Reid saw a shot deflected wide and Gary Ricketts headed Jack Watts’ cross past the post, while at the other end Grantham’s Nathan Watson twice saw efforts cause danger and Sam MacVicar headed straight at Chris Martin.
None of those opportunities were really clear cut, however, and similar could also be said on the stroke of half-time as first Ford’s tricky diving header went just wide and then Ricketts turned an effort past the post.
The second-half was much better, particularly from Ilkeston who looked far more threatening and useful in possession.
First Watts volleyed wide from Ford’s cross, then Grantham’s TJ Nightingale couldn’t control a MacVicar cross on 52 minutes and mis-controlled his shot off target.
The lead came on 58 minutes and there was a touch of controversy about it. A corner was cleared out to Laurie Wilson whose up and under into the six yard box saw Ricketts and Joe Maguire challenge keeper Jake Turner, and despite contact being made a foul wasn’t given and Maguire was able to turn the ball in from close range.
Richards then struck the outside of the post from distance on 67 and further good chances from Ford, Watts and Ricketts were wasted, before two pivotal moments determined the points would be shared.
First, Reid’s cross found Ricketts at the back post but his header across goal was well hooked off the line by Meikle.
Then, barely 60 seconds later, a corner at the other end glanced off Ricketts’ head towards the back post where Meikle was again the recipient and he lashed in a volley from three yards out.
Ricketts was inches from connecting to a Richards cross in injury-time but the ball somehow evaded him, and that summed things up for the Robins as they ultimately had to make do with a point.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Grantham: 1 Jake Turner 2 Tommy Hannigan 3 Lee Ridley 4 Deon Meikle 5 Adie Hawes (Alistair Asher 65) 6 Rhys Lewis 7 Nathan Watson 8 Emeka Nwadike (c) 9 TJ Nightingale (Gio Carchedi 60) 10 Sam MacVicar 11 Kallum Smith (Alex Troke 79). Subs not used: Danny Elliott, James Martin
Scorer: Meikle 81
Ilkeston: 1 Chris Martin 2 Dan Partridge 3 Jake Wholey 4 Laurie Wilson 5 Joe Maguire 6 Russell Cooke (c) 7 James Reid 8 Jack Watts 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Alex Ford (Aaron Hooton 76) 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: Ryan Wilson, James Cullingworth, Kieran O’Connell, Kane Richards
Att: 323 Ref: N Guest
Star Robin: James Reid
by Mark Duffy