Ilkeston fought back from being two goals down with 17 minutes remaining to earn a point at Rushall Olympic on Tuesday night.
Mike Williams and sub Lee Ndlovu struck within six minutes of each other to haul Ilkeston back from the jaws of defeat, although the result means they are now without a win in five league games.
On a bitterly cold evening in the West Midlands, Ilkeston started with Dan Udoh up top while Charlie Coulson and Williams provided support on either flanks. JJ Blake and Joe Doyle were in the holding roles while the returning Luke Shaw and Olly Luto were wing-backs.
The Robins started with intent; Luto had a shot blocked after Williams flicked a cross into his path. Rushall responded with Jamie Hannis timing his hand movement perfectly to touch the ball away from Marlon Walters.
Udoh and Coulson linked well, with the former sliding in the latter and Coulson jinked before firing low and straight at Ryan Price in the hosts’ goal.
Rushall again responded with several corners, but all lacked conviction and accuracy to threaten the Ilkeston goal.
Ilkeston were looking dangerous with Udoh, Williams and Coulson leading the attacks but the final pass was eluding the Robins.
Rushall threatened again through a set-piece, Jake Heath’s delivery resulting in a scramble, before Matt Baker then cleared off the line to deny Walters.
Both sides traded blows, Malachi Lavelle-Moore poked wide from two yards after collecting a flick into the box. Blake’s free-kick from 25 yards then took a nick and flew just over the bar.
The Robins continued to dominate the latter stages of the half, with midfield control influential in allowing space for Coulson and Williams. Udoh almost latched onto Baker’s flick on from a corner, but the striker couldn’t connect, seemingly being held in the process.
But against the run of play, Rushall took the lead. Lavelle-Moore’s sweet through ball sent Josh McKenzie through and the striker surged into the box and finished past Hannis.
After the interval, the hosts continued their confident spell; Lavelle-Moore was again influential, earning corners and starting attacking plays.
Mitch Tolley showed great vision to slide Alex Reid through but Hannis reacted well to smother the striker’s shot.
Ilkeston then were lucky to keep the game at 1-0, Shaw clearing off the line at the back post following a Rushall corner.
The Robins pushed for an equaliser, Williams seeing his header cleared off the line following Blake’s corner. Hannis showed great instincts and quality on his debut, tipping Reid’s low effort round the post.
However Rushall doubled the lead after 71 minutes. Reid was sent through and Hannis mis-timed his tackle in the box. A penalty was awarded with Heath converting from the spot.
But just 23 seconds later, Ilkeston responded, Doyle’s cross landing on the head of Williams who powered home.
Lee Ndlovu’s introduction after 68 minutes gave Andy Watson the firepower he needed and support to Udoh.
Within ten minutes, Ndlovu made the impact. He was sent clear through the middle by Udoh and finished calmly past Price to equalise.
Ilkeston continued to press and dominated the final stages. Ndlovu had a glorious chance when he was put through by Udoh again, but he fired over the bar. Blake then curled straight at Price late on.
Nevertheless, Ilkeston were unlucky not to claim all three points and deserved the one they left with after a stunning comeback.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016:
Rushall: 1 Ryan Price 2 Aris Christophorou 3 Marlon Walters 4 Mitch Tolley 5 Jack Duggan (c) 6 Kieran Morris 7 Jake Heath 8 Kris Taylor 9 Malachi Lavelle-Moore (Jordan Fitzpatrick 78) 10 Josh McKenzie (Jamie Spencer 72) 11 Alex Read. Subs not used: Gavin Caines, Kieran Nesbitt, Kyle Delaney
Scorers: McKenzie 43, Heath 72pen
Ilkeston: 1 Jamie Hannis 2 Luke Shaw 3 Olly Luto 4 Jordan Wheatley 5 Matt Baker 6 Joe Burgess 7 Joe Doyle (c) 8 JJ Blake 9 Dan Udoh 10 Charlie Coulson (Lee Ndlovu 68) 11 Mike Williams. Subs not used: Eli Bako, Dexter Atkinson, Liam Marshall, Danny Gordon
Scorers: Williams 73, Ndlovu 79
Ref: G Stretton