REPORT: Ilkeston 3-4 Blyth Spartans

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The recommended remedy for a team that has lost eight games in a row wouldn’t usually be a match against the league leaders but on this occasion it proved so close to being a miracle cure.

Ilkeston, desperate for points to escape a potential relegation battle, came up against a Blyth Spartans side that has won plenty of them in recent weeks as they fight for the title honours.

What followed shocked many in the New Manor Ground as Ilkeston’s youngsters produced an energetic and high quality display that saw them go 3-0 up and stun the visitors, but Spartans somehow pulled the rabbit out of the hat to come back and steal a win deep in stoppage time.

There were superb performances throughout the Ilkeston team, and although this proved not to earn them points they deserved it at least was a performance they can build on in what are becoming more and more crucial weeks ahead.

Matt Wade fired wide can early on for Blyth but the Robins would have a golden chance to go in front just seven minutes in.

Mike Williams was fouled just inside the penalty area by Alex Nicholson but Luke Shaw’s spot-kick was too low and central and keeper Adam McHugh pushed it away to safety.

Nicholson, however, seemed intent on helping Ilkeston in whatever way he could and three minutes later he proceeded to put them in front.

A fine move saw Shaw feed Curtis Burrows inside the penalty area and his cross was turned into his own net by the Spartans right-back.

Blyth responded with Robbie Dale heading Arran Wearmouth’s cross straight at keeper Jahquil Hill three minutes later, but Ilkeston were playing some good football and Williams’ shot from distance was deflected over as they hunted for a second goal.

They got it on the half-hour mark and it was more woe at the back for Blyth as Burrows dispossessed Jordan Watson before running into the penalty area and squaring for Haydn Goddard who steered in his first Robins goal to put daylight between the sides.

When it seemed things could hardly get any better, they did, and it was another slip at the back that proved costly for Spartans.

This time Nathan Buddle lost his balance allowing Burrows to plough forward and square to Luis Rose, the youngster turning his man and firing in a superb effort low past McHugh for 3-0.

Hill tipped over a Wilson Kneeshaw effort and from the corner Dale had a shot blocked on the line by Ryan Head, but Blyth did get their goal back in first-half stoppage time as Damon Mullen’s free-kick was headed home at the back post by Sean Reid.

It would prove a crucial moment in the game.

Ilkeston began the second-half well and Williams saw an early effort pushed wide by McHugh after more hesitancy in the defence.

But it would be Blyth who would net again on 56 minutes, although there was a degree of fortune about it as Dale’s low shot having cut inside was deflected decisively past Hill by Max Thornberry.

Ilkeston weren’t fazed and nearly got a fourth when Williams found the side netting with a volley following a good break forward from the hosts, Shaw not far wide either with a 25-yarder moments later.

Things quietened down as the hosts perhaps readied themselves for any Blyth onslaught late on, a few good moments on the counter coming to nothing and Burrows in particular putting in a superb shift in hassling the Spartans defence, adding to his earlier assists.

Reid glanced a header wide on 84 as Blyth sought a leveller, the same player then beating Hill to a long ball but Aiden Print was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

Reid, however. wouldn’t be denied his second goal, as an up and under clearance wasn’t dealt with by Hill and Reid guided his header into the net on 89 minutes to level the scores.

Robins hearts were then firmly broken in the seventh minute of stoppage time, though quite where referee Andrew Hendley got that time from baffled most inside the ground.

Dale was the man again, this time twisting and turning before firing in a low shot which beat Hill and earned Blyth the incredible win.

Ilkeston: 1 Jahquil Hill, 2 Aiden Print, 3 Ryan Head, 4 Max Thornberry (Connor Walters 72), 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Danny Gordon, 7 Luke Shaw (Dexter Atkinson 83), 8 Haydn Goddard, 9 Curtis Burrows, 10 Mike Williams, 11 Luis Rose

Subs not used: Dexter Atkinson, David Jones, Ben Morris, Tevahn Tyrell

Blyth: 1 Adam McHugh, 2 Alex Nicholson (Andrew Cartwright 82), 3 Jordan Watson, 4 Nathan Buddle, 5 Dillon Morse, 6 Damen Mullen, 7 Arran Wearmouth (Paul Robinson 80), 8 Sean Reid, 9 Wilson Kneeshaw (Michael Richardson 59), 10 Matthew Wade, 11 Robbie Dale

Subs not used: Danny Parker, Fabian Otte

Att: 404

Ref: Andrew Hendley

Star Robin: Curtis Burrows