Ilkeston’s winless run may have extended to 12 games at the New Manor Ground on Saturday but there was at least a little more to be enthused by on this occasion.
A severely depleted squad thanks to suspensions, training camps abroad and even a no-show meant the Robins only had 12 players to call upon, Tevahn Tyrell the only sub available.
What transpired was a display with far more tempo and vigour than many of those put out recently by this inexperienced squad, and although the team lacks the overall quality to realistically have a chance of staying up were it to remain of the same make-up, those on show here at least showed they are up for the fight.
A run of nearly seven-and-a-half hours without a league goal also came to an end, and although the reality of ‘nil points’ was again the outcome, the young Robins players could at least take more from this game than in most of the previous 11 winless encounters.
Jaylon Bather could have done better with an eighth minute header from a Keenan Meakin corner but headed wide at the back post, the Robins having started positively.
Luis Rose volleyed an effort straight into the arms of keeper Calvin Hare soon afterwards, Dexter Atkinson then unable to connect with a Ben Morris cross when free in the penalty area when a goal looked likely.
Marine weren’t offering too much, a Zac Thompson header easily gathered by Hannis 25 minutes in, Danny Mitchley then putting a Kurt Sherlock centre just past the post from close range but from a tight angle.
The opening goal came on 34 minutes and it went to the visitors. A long ball forward forced Hannis off his line to clear from the left edge of his penalty area as Mitchley was allowed space to run on and challenge, but the ball only reached Sherlock whose shot from 18 yards looped up off a defender and beat the leap of Matt Baker on the line.
Sherlock drove a low effort at Hannis a few minutes later as the Mariners looked to extend their lead, but on 41 it would be the hosts who would finally break their league drought.
The ball found Morris on the edge of the penalty area and after he looped it over the head of a defender his low shot across goal was turned in on the line by Rose who was quick to acknowledge the work of the creator.
The sides went in level at the break, but Ilkeston continued their positive momentum after it with Rose close to turning in another Morris shot on 55 minutes but his header at an awkward height went too high.
Brandon Clarke then couldn’t quite divert a Rose cross into the net, his header looping over the bar, but despite Ilkeston’s dominance for the next 20 minutes or so without creating a good chance, it would be Marine who would go back in front on 68 minutes.
It was a stunning strike, as Warren Bellew controlled the ball 25 yards out and struck a superb volley over Hannis and into the top corner of the net, very much against the run of play.
Newly-arrived sub James Short nearly got a third with his first touch, cutting in and forcing Hannis into a save low down, Mitchley doing similar with eight minutes to go and Andrew Nicholas seeing a header gathered from a corner as Marine finished strongly, Mitchley also hitting the bar with a header in stoppage time.
Ilkeston now head to Mickleover Sports on Boxing Day hoping for some final cheer before 2016 is out.
Ilkeston: 1 Jamie Hannis, 2 Connor Walters, 3 Charlie Scanlon, 4 Max Thornberry, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Keenan Meakin, 7 Luis Rose, 8 Jaylon Bather, 9 Ben Morris, 10 Brandon Clarke, 11 Dexter Atkinson (Tevahn Tyrell 64)
Goals: Rose 41
Marine: 1 Calvin Hare, 2 Lewis Field, 3 Caleb Richards, 4 Adam Hughes, 5 James Foley, 6 Andrew Nicholas, 7 Michael Monaghan, 8 Zac Thompson (Ryan O’Hare 64), 9 Danny Mitchley (c), 10 Kurt Sherlock, 11 Warren Bellew (Denzel Williams 90)
Subs not used: Sean Hessey, 1Dean Porter
Ref: Robbie Dadley.
Goals: Sherlock 34, Bellew 68
Star Robin: Ben Morris