Ilkeston boss Shaun Goater felt Max Thornberry’s red card midway through the second-half proved the pivotal moment as the Robins lost 2-0 at home to Warrington Town on Saturday.
Thornberry was the last defender when he fouled Ruben Jerome as the Yellows man charged towards goal, the subsequent free-kick resulting in an opening goal added to in the dying moments of the game by Warrington’s second.
Up until that point, there wasn’t a great deal to separate the sides in a poor game, but Goater felt Ilkeston struggled to cope with being a man down.
He said: “The problem with me not having been here very long is that we haven’t had a chance to work on what we’d do if we were a man down at any point in a game.
“The first-half saw us create some openings but we were playing against a bit of a wind so I was keen for us to contain them and to try and use the conditions to our advantage in the second-half.
“Even though we went behind I wasn’t too concerned as I felt we’d still have our chances to put pressure on them, but there’s no doubt the red card hindered us.
“We changed to keep the two banks of four with Ben Morris out left and Brandon Clarke at right-back but the pitch was heavy and the players began to tire pretty quickly.
“In the end the second goal came from one or two being caught out of position on the left and the defence got stretched and they were able to capitalise.
“In the end it became a case of damage limitation because a heavier defeat would have been harder psychologically to bounce back from so I wanted us to keep it as tight as we could.”
Ilkeston return to action on Monday night with the trip to Hednesford Town. The Robins now lie 15 points from safety with just 14 games left to save themselves from relegation.