Just when Robins fans thought it probably couldn’t get much worse, it did, and devastatingly so.
Here, Ilkeston’s young players were the proverbial lambs to the slaughter as a mid-table Mickleover, inspired by Sheffield United loanee Connor Hall, showed little mercy.
The warning signs have been there for weeks - this the 13th game in a row Ilkeston haven’t won - but this was as bad as things have ever been at the New Manor Ground since the Robins were reformed and if things don’t change dramatically then relegation will be a certainty.
As always, it’s hard to blame the players entirely, although their heads visibly and perhaps understandably dropped once this game was as good as over 16 minutes in. Their progress is only being hampered by scenarios such as this and their careers surely damaged.
Evidence of potential improvements will now be called for even louder by those who follow Paul Holland’s men. It remains to be seen as to just what that will entail.
This game was out of Ilkeston’s reach very quickly.
It took Sports just eight minutes to take the lead. A free-kick from the inside right channel was floated in by player-boss John McGrath and Connor Hall got up highest to float a fine header wide of Jamie Hannis and into the corner of the net.
Eight minutes later the lead was doubled and in similar style. After a corner was initially cleared, McGrath received the ball again out on the right and his cross was met by a diving header from Adam Baskerville which beat Hannis low down.
Mickleover were turning all of their openings into goals and the third came on 23 minutes. Jake Bennett pounced on an error at the back and got to the byline before squaring for Hall who tapped in from a couple of yards out.
It was then 4-0 three minutes later as Jake Scott was brought down in the area and Hall stepped up to net his hat-trick.
Bennett nearly got a fifth when he cut in from the right but his shot just cleared the crossbar - a relative lull following as neither side were able to threaten too much, although that could be said for the whole of the Ilkeston display up to that point.
A fifth nearly came before the break as Hall and then Andy Dales were denied by Hannis and then a defender respectively, but then Hall wouldn’t be denied with virtually the last kick of the half as he bundled the ball home from close range.
The second-half was two minutes old when Hall got his fifth. Baskerville had a shot blocked following a free-kick out wide and the ball hit the on-loan Sheffield United striker and went in.
Sub Danny Schofield forced Hannis into a save low down, before a rare Robins attack saw Luis Rose shoot into the side netting.
Rose had an even better chance soon afterwards when put clean through on goal. He drew the keeper but put his shot wide, even the home fans disappointed that the net didn’t bulge.
Mickleover, who clearly eased off in the second-half, threatened on a few occasions but the Ilkeston defence finally found some solidity when it was too late, the game petering out and the troubled Robins ending 2016 with the tiniest of whimpers.
Mickleover: 1 Jake Eastwood, 2 Jake Bennett, 3 Ben Turner, 4 John McGrath (Danny Schofield 57), 5 Pablo Mills, 6 Tom Burgin (c), 7 Andy Dales, 8 Jake Scott, 9 Connor Hall (Clinton Morrison 57), 10 Jack Baskerville, 11 Jack Broadhead.
12 Lewis Belgrave, 14 Danny Schofield, 15 Will Norcross, 16 Jake Dickinson, 17 Clinton Morrison.
Ilkeston: 1 Jamie Hannis, 2 Connor Walters (Ryan Head 46), 3 Charlie Scanlon, 4 Max Thornberry, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Keenan Meakin (Reece Horne 68), 7 Luis Rose, 8 Jaylon Bather, 9 Brandon Clarke, 10 Ben Morris, 11 Dexter Atkinson (Jordan Cropper 46).
Subs not used: Tevahn Tyrell, Ryan Wheatley.
Ref: R Eley.
Star Robin: Luis Rose.