A relegation six-pointer in the West Midlands saw Ilkeston FC beaten once again as their winless run was extended.
As has often been the case, this was a story of Ilkeston providing plenty of effort but lacking the quality to do significant damage in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
They were beaten by a fluke of a goal, and there were lots of good moments on the ball for the visitors, particularly in the second-half, but the cutting edge was again missing as the home side held on for a crucial three points.
There were plenty of positive signs, but those alone won’t be enough to keep Ilkeston up and the need for more quality and experience throughout the side was again highlighted to the fore.
The first chance of note came five minutes in when Oliver Marx headed a right-wing corner too high for the hosts.
Max Wright then got down the inside right channel but his ball into the six yard box couldn’t quite find a telling touch although something of a scramble did ensue.
Wright was proving a tricky customer early on and he had the next chance, beating Ryan Head on the left and then firing a shot into the side netting.
Sean Geddes then fancied his chances from just inside the Robins half when the ball broke to him, Jamie Hannis off his line but the ball sailing just wide.
Danny O’Callaghan fired straight at Hannis on 20 minutes as the hosts continued to make the better chances, although Ilkeston were well in the game and getting forward plenty.
The hosts then were awarded a penalty on 32 minutes, when Matt Baker, despite clearly winning the ball when tackling Josh Cooke, was adjudged to have fouled the Sutton man. However, after a discussion with his assistant, referee Mr Hardisty eventually saw sense and awarded what should have been given in the first place, a corner to Sutton.
A rare Robins opening then saw Danny Gordon get to the ball ahead of keeper James Wren but he was forced into a tight angle and his pull-back to Ben Morris eventually saw the latter’s shot blocked.
The Robins then suffered a huge blow by conceding right on half-time. Wright cut back onto his left foot out wide and his cross, undoubtedly aimed at players in the middle, instead looped over Hannis and into the corner of the net. Wright himself looked embarrassed to have scored, that goal enough to give the hosts a half-time lead.
Sutton began the second-half well, an early George Washbourne shot gathered by Hannis after some poor defensive work from the Robins.
Jaylon Bather headed a corner just too high soon after the Robins had introduced Dexter Atkinson and Reece Horne, fresh blood welcome as the visitors looked to gain some momentum.
Wren then came a long way out of goal to close Rose down once again but when the Ilkeston man took control and pulled the ball back, Gordon’s shot was blocked in the penalty area.
Town’s Nathan Fox then did well before firing just wide at the other end, before the Robins missed their best chance so far as Atkinson went clear on goal but opted to square for Rose rather than shoot and his pass wasn’t accurate enough and the ball went behind for a goal kick.
Chances dried up a little but the effort from Ilkeston was there, as was possession in the final third, the home defence hard to break down and Ilkeston lacking the quality to really harm them.
With three minutes left, the moment nearly came, a long free-kick into the box knocked down and sub Tevahn Tyrell’s low shot superbly pushed away low down by Wren.
That would be as close as Ilkeston got despite plenty of late pressure, the young side left to rue their inability to capitalise on a great chance to earn a much-needed win.
Sutton Coldfield: 1 James Wren, 2 Josh Green, 3 Nathan Fox, 4 Reece Webb, 5 Richard Sho-Silva, 6 Oliver Marx, 7 Max Wright, 8 Sean Geddes, 9 Josh Cooke (Jordan Lovell 64), 10 Danny O’Callaghan (George Cleet 50), 11 George Washbourne (Aaron Birch 81)
Sub not used: Sam Ottley
Ilkeston: 1 Jamie Hannis, 2 Connor Walters, 3 Ryan Head, 4 Keenan Meakin (Reece Horne 56) 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Jaylon Bather, 7 Luis Rose, 8 Tom Gamblen (Dexter Atkinson 56), 9 Danny Gordon, 10 Ben Morris (Tevahn Tyrell 72), 11 Brandon Clarke.
Subs not used: Charlie Scanlon, Zak Goodson
Ref: Phil Hardisty
Star Robin: Danny Gordon