Managers leaving can have unpredictable consequences but for Ilkeston FC it sparked their best performance of the season so far.
Gavin Strachan’s departure to Doncaster on Friday had surprised many but Andy Watson stepped in and inspired the Robins to an excellent three points, Ilkeston unflustered by what was a shock half-time deficit given the run of play and producing a fine second-half comeback to deservedly take the honours.
Buxton have begun the campaign well but had no answer to the tempo and work rate of the Robins at the New Manor Ground.
Every man in a red shirt played a part, stifling their visitors to very few openings and thrilling the home faithful with some incisive attacking, particularly on the counter-attack.
Dan Udoh got a start after his goal in midweek and had the first opening here, turning on the edge of the penalty but putting a weak shot wide.
Marcus Harness drilled a low shot straight at Phil Barnes on 15 minutes as Ilkeston continued to start well, a fine move down the left then ending with a cross from Olly Luto which was headed just past the post by Mike Williams.
The Robins were in full flow and Udoh released Eli Bako on the half-hour mark but his toe poke was blocked by Barnes, Williams firing too high moments later.
Out of nowhere, Buxton then took the lead on 32 minutes with their first effort on goal. A soft free-kick was conceded out on the left which Ash Burbeary swung in and Bradley Barraclough scored with a fine glancing header.
Almost immediately Harness saw an effort blocked on the line when Joe Burgess helped on a corner, but Ilkeston would eventually go into the break behind much to the surprise of most at the NMG.
Williams shot wide early in the second period after a lay off from substitute, and debutant, Dexter Atkinson, as Ilkeston continued where they left off in an attacking sense.
Joe Doyle had a powerful shot pushed away by Barnes after more good work from Atkinson, but the reward for their pressure finally came on 61 minutes with the equaliser.
Atkinson and Harness combined down the right and when the ball eventually reached Luto at the back post, his knock down was drilled into the net via a deflection by Williams from the edge of the penalty area.
Nine minutes later and Ilkeston were in front. Bako got away down the right and when he played it back to Harness, the wing-back’s cross was powerfully headed home by Williams for his second. Barnes got a big hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.
The Robins were relentless and their pace was killing the visitors. The third goal was a prime example as Atkinson was released down the inside right channel before being brought down by Greg Young as he raced towards the byline.
Young was booked, Williams stepped up to try and complete his hat-trick but Barnes pushed away his effort. Atkinson, however, was alert and got the ball first to put a diving header into the roof of the net on the rebound.
Barraclough flicked a late header wide for the Bucks and Young saw an effort cleared off the line, but they had been outpaced and outclassed by the hosts who had produced a fine display to mark Watson’s debut game.
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Durrant, 2 Marcus Harness, 3 Olly Luto, 4 Jordan Wheatley, 5 Matt Baker, 6 Joe Burgess (c), 7 Joe Doyle, 8 Paul McKay (Dexter Atkinson 45), 9 Dan Udoh, 10 Mike Williams, 11 Eli Bako
Subs not used: Charlie Coulson, Luis Rose, Ben Morris, Evandro Rachoni
Buxton: 1 Phil Barnes, 2 Glenn Belezika, 3 Tom Buckley, 4 Ricky Ravenhill (Jamie Green 23), 5 Joel Bembo-Leta (Alex Wiles 62), 6 Greg Young, 7 Alastair Taylor, 8 Warren Burrell, 9 Ash Burbeary, 10 Bradley Barraclough, 11 Niall Doran
Subs not used: Fabrice Bembo-Leta, Arron Jameson
Ref: J Clarke
Star Robin: Mike Williams