Winning games had become something of a useful habit for Ilkeston as 2014 came to a close and it’s one that has continued into the new year.
This was another three points that came with a degree of fortune given visitors Barwell missed numerous second-half chances that should really have earned a draw at least, Robins keeper Jordan Smith proving their biggest and best weapon at the back in the latter stages.
But the end result was an 11th game unbeaten in all competitions for a Robins side that look for all the world like title contenders.
Ilkeston had the better of the early stages without creating too much in the way of quality openings, David Morgan and James Reid seeing half chances find the goalkeeper and side-netting respectively.
Barwell’s patience in letting the hosts dictate the play early on was then rewarded on 24 minutes as they took the lead with their first real opening.
Alex Tomkinson swung in a corner from the right which was met with a powerful header by Danny Jenno. Smith parried but Anthony Carney was on hand to blast home the rebound from a few yards out.
The game remained a cagey affair until the 40th minute when the Robins got level in some style.
Reid lined up a free-kick 40 yards out and to the left of goal, but when many may have expected a cross, including goalkeeper James Beeson, Reid went for goal and caught Beeson out as the ball found the net via the Barwell stopper’s hand.
The visitors nearly regained the lead straight away as skipper Richard Lavery’s header from a right-wing cross was well parried by Smith, but the sides would go in level at the break.
The start to the second-half was all-Ilkeston and they got their reward eight minutes in when good work by Callum Chettle ended with Rob Duffy receiving the ball just outside the penalty area and he placed a fine effort wide of Beeson and into the far corner of the net.
Barwell remained a danger on the break and Jamie Towers wasted a good chance by heading straight at Smith not long after the Ilkeston goal.
Eli Bako was enjoying a rare start in a more attacking role although his prowess in front of goal was lacking on the hour when sent in on goal by Morgan, a challenge from a defender not helping him but the shot was mis-hit wide when he should have hit the target - that being Bako’s last involvement with the tackle causing a knock that forced him off.
The remainder of the encounter would see Barwell create the best openings with Ilkeston looking to catch them on the break.
Brehon fired a half volley straight at Smith on 66 then Carney flicked a header just wide moments later as the visitors sought a leveller.
Towers nearly got it, seeing a shot deflected over after a long ball set him up, and he then set up Carney six yards out but somehow the striker put the ball over the bar rather than into the net as he had in the first-half.
The visitors were creating chances regularly and Tomkinson saw a low shot well saved by Smith on 73.
Chettle was Ilkeston’s best outfield player by far and he nearly orchestrated a crucial third for Ilkeston but when the ball finally broke to Reid 30 yards out his shot was too high.
Barwell still looked most likely to score again, Towers seeing an effort saved by Smith on 85 when in a good position.
Duffy then nearly profited from a defensive mix up that left Beeson hopelessly out of position but was tackled as he tried to shoot from a narrow angle.
Sub Jon Stevenson saw a late header saved by Smith and from the resulting corner Jenno saw a header diverted wide by a defender, but the Robins hung on for another crucial three points in what has become a very serious promotion push.
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith, 2 James Reid, 3 Luke Shaw, 4 Akil Wright, 5 Joe Maguire (c), 6 Matt Baker, 7 David Morgan, 8 Callum Chettle, 9 Rob Duffy, 10 Eli Bako (Evan Garnett 63), 11 Ashley Hunter
Subs not used: Jack Lane, Curtis Burrows, Rai Simons, Danny Gordon
Barwell: 1 James Beeson, 2 Scott Lower (Nigel Julian 90), 3 Eddie Nisevic, 4 Danny Jenno, 5 Declan Towers, 6 Richard Lavery (c), 7 Alex Tomkinson (Jon Stevenson 87), 8 Malcolm Melvin, 9 Jamie Towers, 10 Kieron Brehon (Francino Francis 72), 11 Anthony Carney
Subs not used: Callum Woodward, Guy Hadland
Ref: M Billingham
Star Robin: Callum Chettle