This wasn’t the most spectacular three points Ilkeston will ever gain but how they were accrued will matter little to most of those present at the NMG on Tuesday night.
A poor game was won by a fine Mark Shelton goal not long after half-time, the second time this season the midfielder has been the match-winner against Barwell and again it was from distance.
The clean sheet was rarely in doubt despite spells of Barwell pressure that on another day might have seen Ilkeston end up dropping points, and after the win at Corby on Saturday, two games that manager Paul Holland had identified as being vital to get points from have provided the maximum six available.
After a slow start, Ilkeston threatened first when Rory Coleman’s free-kick into the penalty area was met by Anton Brown but his header flew wide of goal.
And that was that until 35 minutes in what was proving to be an extremely turgid encounter, Barwell’s Nigel Julian heading inches wide from a right-wing Cleveland Taylor cross to wake everybody up.
The game was full of mistakes and offside decisions, neither team able to hold on to the ball for more than a few seconds and the goalkeepers rarely stretched.
Montel Gibson wasn’t far away just before the break with a shot from 25 yards but it drifted wide and the interval arrived with very little for anyone present to get excited about, although Ben Morris knocking the ball past the keeper only for it to dribble to a defender near the goalline nearly broke the deadlock in the dying seconds.
Ilkeston began the second-half better and Anthony Dwyer’s cross was headed straight at keeper Max Smith-Varnam by Luis Rose.
When a goal finally came on 52 minutes it was alarmingly simple from Barwell’s point of view but beautifully executed by Shelton. Keeper Ross Durrant’s clearance found him 35 yards out and not far from the touchline, and with one touch he lobbed Smith-Varnam who was well out of his goal and the ball bounced once before hitting the roof of the net.
Barwell were offering very little although Gibson drove too high on 67 minutes, and Liam Kay then headed towards goal from a corner but Durrant did well to push the effort away.
Sub Malachi Lavelle-Moore’s tidy cross was headed down at the goalkeeper by Shelton as the Robins pushed for a second, but some poor decisions in the final third and a lack of real attacking quality would dictate one goal would be all they’d get.
Barwell pushed plenty but failed to seriously test Durrant, Charles Morris closest with a low shot just wide of the far post with 89 minutes on the clock, and Ilkeston would hold on to claim another valuable three points.
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Durrant, 2 Danny Gordon, 3 Rory Coleman, 4 Ben Morris, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Luke Foster, 7 Luis Rose, 8 Mark Shelton, 9 Anthony Dwyer (Malachi Lavelle-Moore 66), 10 Anton Brown, 11 Haydn Goddard. Subs not used: Connor Walters, Jaylon Bather, Dexter Atkinson, Reid Owen
Barwell: 1 Max Smith-Varnam, 2 Cleveland Taylor, 3 Niall Rowe, 4 Declan Towers, 5 Liam Kay, 6 Nigel Julian (Charles Morris 75), 7 Montel Gibson, 8 Craig Stanley, 9 Simeon Cobourne (Owen Story 75), 10 Brady Hickey (c), 11 Romario Martin (Eddie Nisevic 75) Subs not used: Joe Ballinger, Liam Castle
Ref: Mark Tinsley
Star Robin: Ben Morris