Alex Reid’s first-half finish was enough for Rushall Olympic to mount the pressure on Ilkeston’s early season struggles with a low-key win at Dales Lane on Tuesday night.
The win keeps Ilkeston bottom of the table with games in hand, Rushall up to third following this narrow success.
Paul Holland made four changes from the side that lost to Stourbridge in the FA Cup on Saturday. Connor Walters and Dexter Atkinson both started, Jaylon Bather returned from suspension and Anthony Dwyer returned in attack for Malachi Lavelle-Moore.
The early portions of the game saw Dwyer making runs in behind Aris Christophorou and Harry Eze. Ilkeston started well and were controlling the early possession, Anton Brown’s lofted pass into Atkinson was controlled well by the winger but good recovery challenges prevented a shot on goal.
The Robins maintained intensity and continued to close the spaces and press the midfield. Rhys Dolan nearly slid in Mark Shelton but Jose Veiga raced out well to pinch the ball off Shelton’s toes.
Then against the run of play the hosts took the lead on 19 minutes. A cross into the box saw a near post header from Mo Diop saved by Ross Durrant, the ricochet then fell to Reid who fizzed the rebound past Walters on the line. The goal seemed to drop the Ilkeston shoulders and the creativity became all of a sudden very distant.
Reid whipped a dangerous ball in towards the back post but Brown cleared well. Diop then wasted an opening, slipping inside the box; before Bather crucially cleared a venomous Jordan Fitzpatrick cross.
Reid, already with the opener, came close to a second, rattling the crossbar with a firm header from Sam Whittall’s lofted cross.
The second-half seemed to follow on with the same momentum as the first for the Pics. The hosts maintained the pressure, whipping balls into the box but Ilkeston should have drawn level on 54 minutes. Shelton delivered a wonderful ball in where Brown’s header reached Luke Foster who could only head over the bar from a yard out.
Atkinson then trickled an effort straight at Veiga before Rushall pressed once more as Durrant touched a Diop blocked shot over the bar.
Aaron Forde then fired wide from a corner as the Pics maintained consistent control. Reid and Fitzpatrick then came together in the box from Bottomer’s cross in resulting in the ball going wide.
But the second-half began to dry for Ilkeston who despite controlling the game in portions lacked bite in attack.
Rose and Bather both mis-placed passes in the Rushall final third and soon frustration kicked in again as the lack of intensity and consistent chance creation became a distant ambition.
Rushall: Jose Veiga, Aris Christophorou, Zak Martin, Aaron Forde, Sam Whittall, Joel Kettle, Dean Keats, Mikael Partodikrouo, Mo Diop (Jak Jeys 73), Luke Bottomer, Alex Reid.
Subs Not Used: Dean Keates, Marlon Walters, Edinson Antonio, Mikael Partodikromo.
Ilkeston: Ross Durrant, Connor Walters (Malachi Lavelle-Moore 45), Rhys Dolan, Jaylon Bather, Matt Baker(c), Luke Foster, Dexter Atkinson (Luis Rose 68), Mark Shelton, Anthony Dwyer, Anton Brown (Hadyn Goddard 79), Rory Coleman. Subs Not Used: Danny Gordon, Ben Morris.