Ilkeston moved a step closer to relegation as they were beaten 2-0 at promotion-chasing Buxton on Tuesday night.
The Robins players returned to action having boycotted Saturday’s trip to Workington, Connor Paine making his first start in an Ilkeston shirt.
And the Robins held out well for an hour of what was a largely uninspiring contest, Matt Baker heading an early Buxton effort off the line as the hosts created the better of the early openings.
The visitors were frustrating Martin McIntosh’s men, Jamie Hannis saving a free-kick from a threatening position, but it all changed when Bradley Grayson put the hosts ahead just after the hour mark when he found space to fire home and Ilkeston’s job was made that bit harder.
The Bucks, who featured former Ilkeston defender Joe Maguire in their line-up, didn’t have it all their own way and Ben Morris was put through by Danny Gordon but shot too high with five minutes to go as Ilkeston made a late effort to salvage a point.
However, the hosts then sealed the win in the closing stages when Niall Doran added a second and the points were secured.
After the game, Ilkeston boss Shaun Goater said the decision to again go with a more defensive mentality nearly produced rewards but he ended up being disappointed his side couldn’t reap more from the game.
He said: “The situation dictates that we have to play more defensively-minded because we’re not really good enough as a team to play more open and attacking football as we leave ourselves too vulnerable at the back.
“So trying to catch teams on the break is perhaps the best way and we’ve actually created more chances in games whilst playing that way.
“The biggest problem in games like the Stourbridge and Hednesford matches was that having gone ahead, we then conceded two goals in quick succession to then be behind, so I was keen to stress to the players that should we fall behind at Buxton it was important not to concede again straight away.
“We didn’t create too much in the game but did well to hold out, and I was at least pleased that when we did concede it wasn’t quickly followed by another.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to create enough chances to trouble them too much late on and they eventually killed the game off.
“I feel for the fans because they of course want to see us attack and score goals, and I’m a coach who firmly believes that attack is the best form of defence, but you have to look at what tools you have at your disposal and with our vulnerabilities we have to play accordingly.”
Ilkeston now prepare to head to Spennymoor Town on Thursday night before hosting Stourbridge on Saturday.
Goater added: “As it stands I’m not sure how we’ll set up at Spennymoor but clearly they are another strong side who will be favourites to win and score a few goals, so we have to work hard to make it difficult for them.
“The players know the situation and that we’re on the verge of relegation but if we can get two or three more wins from the remaining games that would be a good finish for us, and in any case it’s up to these guys to do themselves justice and earn some rewards for the sacrifices they’re making.”
Ilkeston line-up: Hannis, Thornberry, Scanlon, Leverock, Baker, Gordon, Paine (Horne 80), Gamblen, Tyrell, Morris, Atkinson (Dwyer 46). Subs not used: Bather, Head, Tonge.