After a torrid run of home results, there was almost an air of inevitability that the Robins would suddenly reap the points they desired once they flew from their own nest.
And so it was that Ilkeston left their natural habitat for the first time in a month and lo and behold returned with the three points that really should put an end to any relegation fears.
The team display was a far cry from some of those put out in recent weeks, the visitors efficient throughout to frustrate their hosts who remain in a play-off spot.
It all meant a first win since February 24 was assured and the rot was finally stopped.
Things didn’t start all that well. Rob Duffy knew very little about the ball bouncing up to strike his arm whilst back defending a free-kick barely two minutes in, but referee Mr Mainwaring decided it was an entirely deliberate act and bizarrely awarded a penalty.
Thankfully, Ilkeston goalkeeper Ross Etheridge was able to block Gary Gee’s spot-kick with his legs and Ashton’s chance had gone.
That proved costly just three minutes later as Ilkeston took the lead. James Reid whipped in a free-kick from out on the right which Joe Maguire met with his head to divert the ball past keeper Paul Phillips and into the net.
Ashton had very few chances to make amends, mostly having to shoot harmlessly from distance, and it was Ilkeston who would then strike a huge blow with the second goal on 19 minutes.
Laurie Wilson found Danny Gordon out on the right and his superb cross was met by a powerful header from Duffy which gave Phillips little chance.
The 3-5-2 formation deployed by Ilkeston was effective - Ryan Wilson fitting in very well as one of the three central defenders who were solid throughout, Gordon and Reid providing good width and Chey Adams excellent in central midfield.
Kane Richards nearly added a third but his shot was blocked by Phillips following Reid’s low cross, while all Ashton could offer were harmless long range efforts from Lee Rick and Aaron Chalmers. Sub Matt Chadwick cut inside late in the half but then fired well wide.
The second-half saw a marked improvement from the hosts but, by and large, Ilkeston were resolute and made life very difficult.
Ashton got their goal back on 58 minutes as a corner was only cleared as far as Chris Baguley on the edge of the box and his dipping half volley nestled in the corner of Etheridge’s net.
Chances were then few and far between for both sides as it became a midfield battle from which the visitors emerged victorious, albeit without being able to create much in the final third.
Ashton knocked on the door but simply couldn’t create the openings to break down the Ilkeston defence.
That all proved vital on 79 minutes as the third goal arrived to seal the victory.
A back pass to Phillips saw the keeper slice his clearance straight to Adams some 40 yards out. He proceeded to flick the ball over a defender, burst forward and then although he produced a heavy touch he was able to get wide enough of Phillips to slide the ball home for a much-deserved first Robins goal.
Dale Johnson, Martin Pilkington and Rick all saw Ashton efforts fail to threaten the 3-1 lead, while Ilkeston sub Courey Grantham forced Phillips to push a late shot wide after breaking forward.
But it was a job well done for Ilkeston who could breath a well-earned sigh of relief after a fine display.
Saturday, April 5, 2014:
Ashton: 1 Paul Phillips 2 Aaron Chalmers 3 Max Cartwright (Aidan Chippendale 83) 4 Jason Gorton 5 Jack Higgins 6 Ashley Young 7 Lee Rick 8 Gary Gee (Matthew Chadwick 33) 9 Dale Johnson 10 Martin Pilkington 11 Kayde Coppin (Chris Baguley 52). Subs not used: Mark Haslam, Craig Ellison
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Danny Gordon 3 James Reid 4 Akil Wright 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ryan Wilson 7 Chey Adams 8 Laurie Wilson (c) 9 Rob Duffy (Gary Ricketts 69) 10 Kane Richards (Courey Grantham 69) 11 Mike Williams. Subs not used: Luke Shaw, Callum Chettle, Goran Seymour
Att: 186 Ref: James Mainwaring
Star Robin: Chey Adams
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamont (@MrBarfly)