Matches between Ilkeston and AFC Fylde always seem to be pretty close encounters decided by a narrow margin. This one was no different.
The visitors had to wait until the 79th minute to get their winner through Matty Blinkhorn but Ilkeston had given as good as they got throughout and would have been deserving of a point had they been able to secure it.
Instead it was a fifth home defeat on the bounce - albeit with a more encouraging display than most of the others - and three points for Fylde that kept their title charge well and truly intact.
Kevin Wilson went with the same side that had won so well at Ashton three days earlier and once again there was a solidity about the team not seen for much of this campaign.
The central defensive trio of Joe Maguire, Ryan Wilson and Akil Wright largely stood firm while Chey Adams worked very hard all night in midfield and those around him buzzed about looking for possession.
The lack of a goal will have been a concern for the manager but he was left delighted with the overall display and encouraged by the progress being made.
Richie Allen had a frustrating first-half for Fylde. On three or four separate occasions he found himself in good scoring positions but was unable to hit the back of the net, denied either by wayward finishing or keeper Ross Etheridge who again looked confident throughout.
The Robins were sniffing around too, Maguire’s early header from James Reid’s corner going too high while Reid himself curled a free-kick just wide.
Adams also saw a shot go close but keeper Ben Hinchliffe saved at the second attempt.
The second-half saw more probing from the hosts in particular, sub Courey Grantham, who had replaced the injured Kane Richards just 20 minutes in, glancing Reid’s cross wide of the target.
Rob Duffy was again putting himself about up front but without a great deal of grace or elegance, the stocky striker forcing Hinchliffe to push a header wide on 68 minutes but otherwise failing to have a great deal of influence on the game following a much better input at the weekend.
The goal came from Fylde’s best attack of the second-half thus far. Sub Sean Cooke blasted an effort against the post from outside the box, the shot so powerful that the ball rebounded all the way back out to Blinkhorn who was also outside the penalty area. He saw Etheridge slightly out of position and chipped the young keeper, the ball nestling in the far corner of the net.
Karl Noon could well have added a second in the final ten minutes but first flashed a shot wide and then found Etheridge’s legs when put through four minutes from time.
Ilkeston huffed and puffed for a leveller but didn’t have much left in the tank, despite the introductions of Gary Ricketts and Courtney Baker-Richardson up top in place of Duffy and wing-back Danny Gordon.
Ricketts strayed too far from his central role without any effect while Baker-Richardson was energetic but unable to feed on any scraps in the dying stages.
It all meant another home defeat but one which left fans a little more enthused than many others before it, although another disappointing attendance emphasised results may need to improve along with the performances before many make the effort to return.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014:
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Danny Gordon (Gary Ricketts 82) 3 James Reid 4 Akil Wright 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ryan Wilson 7 Chey Adams 8 Laurie Wilson (c) 9 Rob Duffy (Courtney Baker-Richardson 82) 10 Kane Richards (Courey Grantham 21) 11 Mike Williams. Subs not used: Luke Shaw, Callum Chettle
Chorley: 1 Ben Hinchliffe 2 David Hankin (Karl Noon 60) 3 Adam Sumner 4 Josh Langley 5 Andy Russell 6 Brad Barnes 7 Michael Barnes 8 Caspar Hughes (Sean Cooke 60) 9 Matt Blinkhorn 10 Harry Winter 11 Richie Allen (Daniel Lloyd-McGoldrick 80). Subs not used: Joe Booth, Jacob Gregory
Att: 305 Ref: Alix Pashley
Star Robin: Chey Adams
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)