Amid all of the woes Ilkeston have had to deal with at home in recent weeks it’s been two trips north that have ultimately secured their Evo-Stik Premier Division place.
The 3-1 win at Ashton United on April 5 and this success at Marine on Saturday pocketed six points the Robins had failed to secure in a series of home games and steered Kevin Wilson’s men harmlessly away from the danger zone.
Lessons will be learned from this season but among the positive ones will be the way the Robins players have adapted to a 3-5-2 system which again proved fruitful to help leave the home side still looking over their shoulders at the drop zone.
Things didn’t start all that well in Liverpool thanks to a fine opener by Andy Fowler just seven minutes in, the midfielder collecting the ball from a corner just outside the penalty area and firing high and wide of Ross Etheridge and into the net.
Indeed, Ilkeston appeared not to have arrived at the ground until half-an-hour in as the game failed to spark at all aside from two Aaron Rey half chances headed at Etheridge for the hosts, but that changed after 34 minutes with the Robins’ first shot on goal.
Courey Grantham found space on the left and when his drilled cross somehow found Mike Williams at the back post the young Welshman fired home with conviction.
James Reid fired straight at keeper Callum Williams from distance moments later but the Robins would go in at the break with a lead they would never surrender.
Mike Williams was the provider this time, his pass to compatriot Rob Duffy just outside the penalty area seeing the striker place a shot past the keeper and into the corner.
The second-half wasn’t a great deal better as a spectacle but Ilkeston played much more of a part in it, largely holding their own in midfield and frequently breaking forward when Marine attacks failed.
Duffy’s shot across goal was inches away from being turned in by a couple of blue shirts just after the break, before Duffy then charged down a clearance from keeper Williams but saw the ball drop just wide.
Marine were struggling to test Etheridge, Phil Clarke’s 25-yarder doing lacking power and another incident seeing two or three shots in a goalmouth scramble well blocked by Ilkeston’s defence.
The game was effectively settled nine minutes from time and it owed much to the pace of substitute Kane Richards who burst into the penalty area only to be brought down by skipper John Shaw.
Ilkeston captain Laurie Wilson did the honours from the spot and although Williams got a hand to his penalty it still found the corner of the net.
The game was won but there was still time for the hosts to make things a little more uncertain. A long ball forward found its way to Fowler and he beat Etheridge for the second time to reduce the arrears with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Richards was lively throughout his cameo and in stoppage time cut in from the left and fired in a shot which Williams palmed away, while a free-kick from Wilson in the dying seconds was just wide of the post as Ilkeston ultimately made do with the three goals which sealed a welcome victory.
Saturday, April 19, 2014:
Marine: 1 Callum Williams 2 Connor Roberts-Nurse (Michael Monaghan 46) 3 John Shaw (c) 4 Dale Wright 5 Will Bell 6 Lee Parle 7 Andy Fowler 8 Jonathan Goulding (Matty Devine 75) 9 Aaron Rey (Will Jones 66) 10 Josh Sumner 11 Phil Clarke. Subs not used: Neil Harvey, Liam Rice
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Danny Gordon 3 James Reid 4 Matt Baker 5 Joe Maguire 6 Ryan Wilson 7 Mike Williams 8 Laurie Wilson (c) 9 Rob Duffy 10 Courey Grantham (Kane Richards 76) 11 Chey Adams (Eli Bako 72). Subs not used: Luke Shaw, Callum Chettle, Gary Ricketts
Att: 378 Ref: Chris Isherwood
Star Robin: Joe Maguire
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter: @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (@sportsphotorob)