It was a familiar story for Ilkeston on Tuesday night as a lack of penalty area prowess proved their undoing against high-flying Rushall Olympic.
The hosts dominated the encounter and created plenty of attacking openings, but they generally lack an attacking spark that could yet be the difference between a relegation battle and a mid-table finish or better.
Rushall are enjoying a good start to the campaign and were always an attacking threat even if it wasn’t all that prevalent throughout, a set piece and a late goal into an unguarded net proving enough to deny the Robins a point or more they deserved for their efforts.
For Ilkeston, their current inability to recruit the players that could make such a difference was again highlighted as being an area of frustration for all at the NMG, but they could at least take heart from a far better performance than that put out against Barwell in the FA Trophy last weekend
A quiet start saw Rushall set the early pace but without seriously testing Ross Durrant in the Robins goal, Malachi Lavelle-Moore at the other end producing the first effort of note with a long range shot which was just wide.
Rory Coleman’s free-kick from 30 yards found the hands of keeper Jose Veiga a few moments later, Lavelle-Moore volleying just too high not long afterwards.
Rushall looked dangerous on the break and from one such attack Alex Reid’s pull back reached Mo Diop and his shot clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over.
Anton Brown’s header from a corner forced Veiga to save low down on 38 minutes as Ilkeston tried to make their considerable first-half possession count, another Brown header floating too high from Mark Shelton’s corner a few minutes later.
Ilkeston came out for the second-half needing to make their possession count and 20 seconds in they nearly did as Lavelle-Moore’s flick released Luis Rose through the middle but on a collision course with the keeper he could only lift the ball just over the bar.
Rose then cut inside and shot straight at Veiga on the hour mark as the Robins continued to assert themselves with some decent football.
The Pics still looked a threat on the break and Jak Jeys fired low at Durrant on 67 minutes as they broke clear after a Robins move broke down.
Remarkably, it was Rushall who got the lead on 77 minutes. A corner from the right saw three go up for a header which Durrant saved but Diop was on hand to force the ball over the line from a yard or two out and the visitors were in front.
Ilkeston continued to push the buttons but Rushall remained equal to everything they threw at them. Sub Brandon Clarke nearly found the answer as the game entered stoppage time, his curler tipped over by Veiga, and the hosts would then be made to rue that miss.
Durrant came forward for the corner but when the ball was cleared he faced a race to get back as Rushall attacked. Left-back Isaac Cooper had a crack from just inside his own half and as the ball rolled towards goal Durrant couldn’t quite keep it out and, under pressure from Mugisha, the ball went in. Cooper was credited with the goal, and Ilkeston’s efforts had gone unrewarded.
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Durrant, 2 Danny Gordon, 3 Rory Coleman, 4 Ben Morris (Anthony Dwyer 76), 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Jaylon Bather, 7 Luis Rose, 8 Mark Shelton, 9 Malachi Lavelle-Moore, 10 Anton Brown, 11 Haydn Goddard (Brandon Clarke 80)
Subs not used: Connor Walters, Ryan Head, Reid Owen
Rushall: 1 Jose Veiga, 2 Joe Hull, 3 Isaac Cooper, 4 Sam Whittall, 5 Henry Eze (c), 6 George Forsyth (Aaron Forde 61), 7 Luke Bottomer (Stan Mugisha 75), 8 Jordan Fitzpatrick, 9 Jak Jeys (Jazz Luckie 70), 10 Mo Diop, 11 Alex Reid
Subs not used: Mickael Partodikromo, Jack Squire.
Ref: Nigel Smith.
Star Robin: Mark Shelton.