Ilkeston fans may not have travelled up the M6 with too much optimism ahead of this clash but they’d have come back down it feeling a little more enthused.
Chorley won the game, making it a club record 11 wins on the bounce, but the Robins competed well throughout and will have gathered plenty of encouragement from giving a very in-form side a tough challenge.
In front of a four figure crowd at Victory Park the visitors were never overawed, the timing of the second Chorley goal perhaps the biggest factor in this game, coming as it did seconds from a half-time break which nearly arrived with the Robins having just a one-goal deficit to overcome.
For the first 25 minutes or so, Ilkeston bossed this encounter.
They should have gone in front after just five minutes when, after a good break forward, James Reid’s cross reached Lejaun Simmons six yards out but he couldn’t get a good contact on the ball and it found the grateful hands of goalkeeper Sam Ashton.
A fine tackle by Ellis Storey then denied James Dean a shooting chance at the other end, before returning Robins skipper Laurie Wilson squared a free-kick to Reid 30 yards out and his excellent strike was only just wide of Ashton’s right-hand post.
Ryan Wilson placed a shot just too high moments later, before Chorley started to gain some momentum at last, Dale Whitham heading against a post on 18 minutes, Lloyd Allinson saving Josh Hine’s follow up and Andy Teague’s header from the subsequent corner being blocked on the line by Jamie Anton.
The opening goal arrived on 27 minutes when Dean nodded a ball forward into the path of Darren Stephenson and his sublime lob from outside the area beat Allinson and found the corner of the net.
Allinson blocked from Hine five minutes later after a Reid error, but Chorley wouldn’t be denied in first-half stoppage time when Stephenson did well on the left and his cross was headed down and into the corner by Dean for the crucial second goal.
Ilkeston had work to do but although they remained confident on the ball in the second-half, they didn’t create too many clear cut openings.
After Hine had shot wide for Chorley, Simmons found sub Che Adams on 64 minutes but his low effort was parried away by Ashton.
Sub Jason Stokes did far more in his 25 minute appearance than the man he replaced, Kane Richards, did in the previous 65, his shot blocked wide moments after coming on.
The goal back came with nine to go and it was an excellent effort as another sub, Aaron Hooton, let fly on the half volley from 25 yards and the ball found the top corner of the net - a confidence booster for a player out of form recently.
The Robins fancied a point and Stokes’ shot on 85 minutes was straight at Ashton, but it wasn’t to be for Ilkeston - the nearest a visiting player getting to scoring for the remainder of the game being Joe Maguire whose defensive header from a corner was inches over his own crossbar as the hosts held on for another win.
Saturday, November 23, 2013:
Chorley: 1 Sam Ashton 2 Mark Ross 3 Adam Mather 4 Andy Teague (c) 5 Keil O’Brien 6 Dale Whitham 7 Josh Hine (Adam Roscoe 88) 8 Paul Woolcott 9 James Dean 10 Darren Stephenson 11 Jake Cottrell (Paul Jarvis 10). Subs not used: Simon Wiles, Alex Meaney, Jamie Vermiglio
Ilkeston: 1 Lloyd Allinson 2 Jamie Anton 3 Ellis Storey 4 Laurie Wilson (c) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Matt Baker (Aaron Hooton 77) 7 Kane Richards (Jason Stokes 66) 8 James Reid (Che Adams 53) 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Lejaun Simmons 11 Ryan Wilson. Subs not used: Akil Wright, Callum Chettle
Att: 1,017 Ref: J Simpson
Star Robin: Joe Maguire
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (Twitter - @sportsphotorob)