Ilkeston frustrated league leaders Whitby Town on Saturday as they took a well-earned point from a 0-0 draw at the New Manor Ground.
The minimum requirement from Ilkeston here was ‘be better than last week’ and they certainly ticked that box, a far more cohesive performance than in the defeat to Workington just lacking the final bit of quality that could have brought them a goal.
Ilkeston adopted a 5-3-2 formation which helped, with wing-backs deployed and Max Thornberry returning as one of the three centre-backs – the home fans appeased by seeing two strikers up top as well rather than Malachi Lavelle-Moore on his own.
And it once again saw the Robins give a top side in the division a tough ride, the visitors creating the better chances but probably happy to leave with a point by the time the 90 minutes were up.
Ross Durrant had to be alert to push away an early free-kick from Daniel McWilliams which was swinging in towards goal as the visitors started well, the Robins keeper then having to save easily from Matty Tymon’s header nine minutes in.
A fine move nearly had Whitby in front on 23 minutes. Dale Hopson found Connor Smith out on the right after some quick passing in midfield but when Smith’s cross found Dave McTiernan in the six yard box he couldn’t adjust his body and the ball went through his legs and wide for a corner.
Tymon was then millimetres away with connecting with another McWilliams free-kick as the visitors continued to have the better moments in the final third, but Ilkeston held out well to half-time whilst looking far from overawed by their high-placed opponents.
After a slow start to the second-half the Robins had the first effort of note as Lavelle-Moore tried his luck from 25 yards but Shane Bland pushed his shot away from danger.
Adam Gell drove a low shot wide from a Whitby corner as the hour mark ticked over, Luis Rose then unable to turn the ball home after a good Ilkeston break forward at the other end.
Rose then shot wide after a mistake at the back by Luke Bythway, the Robins continuing to pose a threat when the opportunity arose to put some pressure on the league leaders.
The visitors nearly had the lead on 73 minutes when a cut back found Hopson whose low shot was well saved low down by Durrant and Ilkeston cleared, Durrant then tipping another Hopson effort over the top moments later.
A better touch from sub Dexter Atkinson would have put the Ilkeston man in on goal with six minutes to go but he was unable to control when fed by Lavelle-Moore.
Bythway flicked a header just over from a corner for Whitby in the closing stages, but ultimately the points would be shared after an entertaining afternoon’s action.
Ilkeston 1 Ross Durrant, 2 Connor Walters, 3 Tom Gamblenn (Keenan Meakin 74), 4 Danny Gordon, 5 Matt Baker, 6 Jaylon Bather, 7 Luis Rose (Reid Owen 90), 8 Max Thornberry, 9 Malachi Lavelle-Moore, 10 Ben Morris (Dexter Atkinson 78), 11 Haydn Goddard
Subs not used: Brandon Clarke, Tevahn Tyrell
Whitby: 1 Shane Bland, 2 Connor Smith, 3 Daniel McWilliams, 4 Andrew May, 5 Luke Bythway, 6 Mark Robinson ©, 7 Adam Gell, 8 Dave McTiernan, 9 Mikey Roberts, 10 Matty Tymon (Jack Blackford 78), 11 Dale Hopson
Lee Bullock, Callum Martin, Anthony Hume, Daniel Dixon
Ref: Ian Johnston
Star Robin: Ross Durrant