As much as moments of brilliance can decide the outcome of matches, errors can also play a part and that was the case at the New Manor Ground on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Jordan Smith gifted visitors Curzon Ashton an opening goal in the first-half, and with Rob Duffy missing a second-half penalty the Robins were left wondering what might have been had those events gone in their favour.
Ultimately the points were shared which was probably fair given some of the chances Curzon also squandered, but it needed a much-improved second-half display from Ilkeston to keep them in with a shout following a disappointing first period.
David Morgan, again a key man in midfield, saw a low shot pushed away by goalkeeper Hakan Burton early on, before the opening goal arrived in somewhat catastrophic circumstances on 18 minutes.
A hopeful through ball from Ryan Watson reached Smith just outside the right-hand edge of his penalty area, but in trying to dribble the ball back into the 18-yard box in order to pick it up, he clumsily lost possession to Ryan Brooke who ran on to slide the ball home despite Smith’s desperate attempts to claim it back.
It was a rare blemish from the young goalkeeper who has been in good form so far this season and amends were made a few minutes later when he superbly dived low to his right to push Niall Cummins’ close range shot over the bar.
Brooke missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 after Jordan Wright and Cummins had created an opening for what looked a certain goal with Smith out of the equation, but Brooke blasted over the bar from ten yards with defenders on the line.
The closest Ilkeston came to an equaliser before half-time was when Luke Shaw’s cross-come-shot just evaded the far post after Callum Chettle’s fine long ball.
The second-half saw the Robins come out with much more vigour and after Brooke had headed straight at Smith for Curzon early on, Ilkeston levelled on 52 minutes.
Kane Richards spread the ball out wide to James Reid on the left and his floated cross to the back post was met by Duffy’s firm header across goal and into the corner of the net.
The two teams traded chances after that, Sam Walker firing low at the keeper for Curzon and Duffy doing similar when in space at the other end.
The golden chance for Ilkeston to win the game came on 75 minutes when Shaw got the byline before being fouled by keeper Burton. Had referee Mr Cooke decided to hang on for a few seconds, he’d probably have seen Richards slam the ball home from six yards out, but his impatience saw a penalty awarded instead.
The hosts would rue that because Duffy fired his shot against the outside of the post and the ball went behind. It was Ilkeston’s fifth penalty in consecutive games but second miss in a row.
Sub Jake Mulraney then saw a great chance go begging late on when, one on one with Burton, he saw his shot blocked.
Curzon nearly stole the points themselves in the dying moments, firstly when a goal kick found its way straight to sub Mark Bett who blazed a great chance over the top and then Walker putting another opportunity just over the bar deep into stoppage time.
Ilkeston’s Kieran Wallace bent in a late free-kick that only just evaded all interested parties in the closing seconds, but a draw was to be the outcome and one which both sides could be satisfied with.
Saturday, August 30, 2014:
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith 2 Luke Shaw 3 James Reid (Mike Williams 90) 4 Akil Wright 5 Joe Maguire (c) 6 Jack Lane 7 David Morgan 8 Callum Chettle (Kieran Wallace 79) 9 Rob Duffy 10 Kane Richards 11 Chey Adams (Jake Mulraney 83). Subs not used: Ellis Storey, Danny Gordon
Curzon: 1 Hakan Burton 2 Chris Rowney 3 Darren Thornton 4 Jonathan Hunt 5 Andrew Watson 6 Alex Brown 7 Ryan Watson 8 Sam Walker 9 Niall Cummins 10 Jordan Wright 11 Ryan Brooke (Mark Bett 84). Subs not used: Matt Kay, Simon Lakeland, Andre Fitzgerald, Matthew Crothers
Att: 410 Ref: Ben Cooke
Star Robin: David Morgan
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamont (@_CLPhotography)