This was the day Ilkeston discovered they are being firmly dragged into a relegation battle.
Fellow strugglers Mickleover secured three crucial points in their own battle for survival, Ilkeston losing their eighth straight game and providing little evidence that an end to that run is on the horizon, particularly with leaders Blyth Spartans their next opponents.
They lacked cohesion and attacking prowess on this occasion which, coupled with a pair of disappointing goals to concede late in the game, meant another frustrating afternoon for their supporters.
Their very young team are now tasked with the considerable challenge of ensuring the club stays in the division, and although there is still reasonable daylight between the Robins and the bottom four, points are badly needed and fast.
It had taken considerable efforts from the Robins groundstaff to get the game on, large patches of standing water having been cleared during the morning to allow the pitch to be playable.
Sports were on the attack quickly and just 20 seconds in Nyambyu Dinanga fired wide after being released into the penalty area.
Niall Thompson was then even closer on seven minutes as his strike across goal came back off the crossbar and was cleared.
A lively but probably fair challenge by Mike Williams saw Sports defender Dwayne Wiley’s match end early, Williams booked for the tackle, probably due to its ferocity rather than anything else as he clearly won the ball.
It was Williams who then provided Ilkeston’s first shot on goal on the half-hour mark, his long range strike comfortably held by former Robins loanee Ross Durrant.
At the other end, Nico DeGirolamo’s header was pushed over the bar by Jamie Hannis, the same player seeing another header go just wide from a corner moments later as half-time arrived with neither side able to break through but Sports probably more disappointed not to be ahead.
Dinanga was in action early in the second-half as he had been in the first, sent through on goal but putting his shot into the side netting when he should have at least got it on target.
DeGirolamo headed just off target once again, this time from six yards out following an Andy Dales free-kick from out wide,
Williams curled too high for the hosts as they still struggled to penetrate, while at the other end a superb Matt Baker challenge denied sub Jay Cooper a shot on goal after Thompson’s pull back.
Sports were then forced to play the last 13 minutes with ten men as Jake Bennett retired hurt with all three substitutes having been used.
Danny Gordon’s low shot was saved well by Durrant as Ilkeston tried to make their numerical advantage count, but instead it would be the visitors who would take the lead on 80 minutes.
Thompson had been having a poor second-half but he proceeded to run into the penalty area and beat two or three defenders before finishing low past Hannis.
Mickleover kept pushing and got their second with three minutes to go. Cooper was fouled 25 yards out and John McGrath curled the free-kick low into the corner of the net.
And that was that. Ilkeston had neither the quality nor the time to respond and Sports held out for three points that lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Ilkeston: 1 Jamie Hannis, 2 Connor Walters, 3 Ryan Head, 4 Danny Gordon, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Max Thornberry, 7 Dexter Atkinson, 8 Curtis Burrows, 9 Roy Lee, 10 Mike Williams, 11 Luis Rose
Subs not used: Luke Shaw, David Jones, Haydn Goddard, Aiden Print, Brandon Clarke
Mickleover: 1 Ross Durrant, 2 Liam Marsden, 3 Jake Bennett (c), 4 Jack Broadhead, 5 Dwayne Riley (Dominic McGarr 22), 6 Nico DeGirolamo, 7 Andy Dales, 8 Niall Thompson, 9 Nyambu Dinanga (Jay Cooper 62), 10 John McGrath, 11 Jake Green (Joe Fitzpatrick 72)
Subs not used: Kyode Bola, Jordan Edridge
Ref: Danny Middleton
Star Robin: Matt Baker