After a week involving a defeat at far away Workington and then the news going public that manager Kevin Wilson won’t be with the club beyond May, what Ilkeston needed was a comfortable three points to help show that their very solid promotion push is still firmly on course.
They achieved that in West Yorkshire with a win that wasn’t particularly attractive against a side whose football wasn’t either, but two second-half goals were more than enough to ensure the Robins returned back down the M1 still second in the table and looking almost certain for a play-off place.
The hosts are staring the drop in the face and never really looked like they’d do a great deal of damage aside from a few lively tackles late on, Ilkeston also overcoming a very bobbly pitch in their quest for the points.
The Robins started well with Rob Duffy firing straight at keeper Ben Simpson following James Reid’s volleyed crossfield pass two minutes in.
Joe Maguire was inches away with a free header from Reid’s corner six minutes later, then Mitch Rose broke into the box and saw his shot deflected just wide.
Frickley then saw key man Gavin Allott retire injured on 16 minutes - a recurring hamstring problem the cause but a boost for Ilkeston given he is a regular scorer in the Athletic ranks.
The hosts’ main threat appeared to only be from half chances, Reece Thompson and Brad Dockerty wide and high from distance respectively.
Reid fired over after Rose’s cross from the right on 25 as Ilkeston continued to look the more dangerous side up top, Frickley sub Danny South then heading well wide from a deep free-kick.
Frickley’s best moment of the half came on 41 minutes when Thompson beat Rose to cut inside but he hammered his shot straight at Robins keeper Jordan Smith who parried the ball away.
Jack Watts then found some space after a ball over the top but could only shoot too high, the sides going in scoreless at the break.
It took just four minutes of the second-half for Ilkeston to finally break the deadlock and it was some strike that did it. David Morgan found himself in acres of space 30 yards out and picked his spot with a powerful right-foot shot into the roof of the net.
Smith had to tip a Thompson header over the bar at the other end as Frickley responded quickly, Callum Chettle then firing weakly at home custodian Simpson after Watts’ ball into the penalty area.
Rose was proving a good outlet down the right and he had another low shot deflected wide on 56, but that proved to be his last act as he was clattered in the process and limped off to be replaced by Luke Shaw.
The Robins made it 2-0 on 65 minutes to kill the game off. Watts did well to find Richards inside the penalty area and he beat one man before firing low into the net to earn a crucial and decisive two-goal cushion.
Frickley nearly pulled one back straight away, Thompson hitting the top of the crossbar after latching on to a through ball, Ilkeston’s Duffy then screwing horridly wide when in space following Shaw’s square pass with 15 to go.
Frickley were still offering little up top although a header from John Cyrus was wide of the target on 78, Robins sub Jake Wright volleying wide having just replaced Watts eight minutes from time and Reid volleying too high from distance.
But it was job safely done for the Robins ahead of the Easter Monday visit of already-relegated Belper.
Frickley: 1 Ben Simpson, 2 Luke Jeffs, 3 James Kay, 4 Luke Hornsey, 5 John Cyrus, 6 Jameel Ible, 7 Brad Riley (Sam Cable 84), 8 Macauley Parkinson, 9 Reece Thompson, 10 Gavin Allott (c) (Danny South 16), 11 Brad Dockerty
Chris Salt, Lee Stratford, Jon Hood
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith, 2 Mitch Rose (Luke Shaw 60), 3 James Reid, 4 Matt Baker, 5 Joe Maguire (c), 6 Jack Lane, 7 David Morgan, 8 Callum Chettle, 9 Rob Duffy, 10 Jack Watts (Jake Wright 81), 11 Kane Richards (Mike Williams 73)
Subs not used: Rai Simons, Joe Burgess
Ref: Chris Ward
Star Robin: David Morgan