Ilkeston Town produced a stirring second-half fightback to overcome likely promotion rivals Walsall Wood on Saturday at the New Manor Ground.
The 3-2 win was achieved the hard way, the Robins falling behind twice before recovering, but it could be a vital three points once the final positions are being jostled for come April.
Walsall Wood look a good side but aside from their two goals didn’t trouble keeper Ian Deakin too much, a slightly bad-tempered second-half from their point of view also doing them few favours.
But for Ilkeston it’s now 12 games in a row that they’ve emerged the winners - form to surely make others sit up and notice.
The first chance of the game brought the opening goal. Ilkeston had been slow to get going and when Chris Shaw was tackled 35 yards out, Walsall Wood were suddenly two-on-one and Paul Sulllivan was able to square to Sam Agar who slid a fine finish low past Deakin.
Just two minutes later, Ilkeston could have been level as Jamie Walker’s cross found Alex Marshall six yards out but his header was against the crossbar and the ball was cleared.
Walker cut inside and hit a shot straight at keeper Lloyd Ransom on 16 minutes, but despite neat and tidy football from the visitors and a few good but unrewarded crosses from Ilkeston, chances then dried up for a little while.
That spell ended on the half-hour when a good break from Walker ended with low cross which Alex Marshall couldn’t quite turn in and when the ball fell to Jordan Wheatley his shot was deflected just wide.
The equaliser finally arrived on 44 minutes and it was deserved. A ball into the box from Wheatley was deflected up in the air and dropped nicely for Walker to slam home on the volley from a slight angle six yards out.
That goal should have seen Ilkeston push on in the second-half, but instead they were behind again barely three minutes into it.
An Ilkeston defensive header fell to the feet of Sullivan and as the Robins stood off him he rifled a fine shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.
Tom Marshall nearly levelled with a header moments later from a free-kick into the box but Sansom tipped it wide of the post.
However, the equaliser did arrive on the hour and it was a fine goal.
Ilkeston moved the ball well left to right and Tom Marshall’s chipped cross was powerfully headed home by Montel Gibson four yards out.
Nathan Walker drove wide for the visitors on 68 minutes as they continued to be a threat going forward, but Gibson would then have another say moments later.
This time he took possession outside the box and hit something of a speculative shot which Ransome failed to deal with at his near post and the ball bounced over his hand and into the net.
Agar put a great chance over the top on 77, chesting down but then volleying too high in a good position.
Agar was then lucky not to be sent off as, having already been booked earlier, he then chopped down Ben Fairclough but for some reason ref Rob Cairns deemed it not worthy of another booking which baffled most in the ground.
The late stages saw the visitors put pressure on without really threatening another goal, the hosts seeing the win out for a valuable three points.
ILKESTON: 1 Ian Deakin, 2 Lavell White, 3 Jamie Walker, 4 Chris Shaw (c), 5 Charlie Jemson, 6 Tom Marshall, 7 Micah Edwards, 8 Jordan Wheatley, 9 Alex Marshall, 10 Montel Gibson (Tim Hopkinson 88), 11 Billy Bennett (Ben Fairclough 60). Subs not used: Martin Lench, Elliott Hodgett-Young, Ben Morris.
WALSALL WOOD: 1 Lloyd Ransom, 2 Craig Deakin, 3 Dan Okojie (Tony Clarke 55), 4 Kyle Rowley (Gavin Hurren 85), 5 Callum McFarlane, 6 Mitch Tolley (c), 7 Jordan Fitzpatrick, 8 Nathan Walker, 9 Paul Sullivan, 10 Sam Agar (Jake Humphries 89), 11 Lewis Hayden. Subs not used: Stan Mugisha, Peter Till.
REFEREE: Rob Cairns.
STAR ROBIN: Montel Gibson.