Having notched 19 goals in six games there was perhaps an air of inevitability Ilkeston would draw a blank at some point and so it proved in the Derbyshire Dales on Saturday.
The first of two successive Saturday visits to the Autoworld Arena produced something of a drab encounter that offered little in the way of clues as to who might prevail when the sides meet again in the FA Cup this weekend.
And whilst there was a lack of the cutting edge up front that has taken a few teams apart already this campaign, another clean sheet pleased Robins boss Kevin Wilson against a Matlock attack which itself was far from firing on all cylinders.
Not for the first time on ‘Non League Day’ the spectacle produced may not have done a great deal to persuade those in the crowd sampling the lower levels of the game to come back for too much more, indeed even a few regular watchers might have needed a stiffer drink than usual on their Saturday night.
Clear cut chances were scarce although Ilkeston opened fairly well. Nine minutes had been played when James Reid broke down the left before pulling the ball back to Chey Adams who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area but his shot was just too high.
Former Robin Jason Stokes has begun the season well at his new club and although largely quiet in this encounter he saw an effort go wide from Josh Meade’s cross on 13 minutes.
The game went into one of its many lulls before Adams tested Jon Kennedy with a low shot that was straight at the Matlock keeper.
Adams was, once again, the player who looked most likely to spark the game into action with his personal tempo seeming to be much higher than anyone else’s, but he probably didn’t get enough of the ball to help create any kind of persistent danger to the home side.
A two-minute spell late in the first-half produced chances for either side that would ultimately be about as close as they would get to netting the winner.
First, Matlock’s Corey Gregory found space 25 yards out before firing a shot at goal that Robins keeper Jordan Smith diverted on to the crossbar and out for a corner.
Moments later, Reid again received the ball on the left hand side and his deep cross found Rob Duffy at the far post whose powerful header back across goal was well pushed over the bar by Kennedy.
The second-half was all about promising openings ending with poor final balls or shots that didn’t panic either goalkeeper.
Adams dragged a shot wide after cutting inside on 51 minutes, while at the other end Adam Yates was well off target with another shot from distance.
A good burst forward from Kane Richards then saw Luke Shaw receive possession on the edge of the penalty area but when a goal looked a possibility Shaw’s shot was blocked well by a diving defender.
Of the half chances being created virtually all were falling to Ilkeston. Adams once again shot low at Kennedy on 67 minutes and it took until the dying stages before either side seriously threatened again, namely Ilkeston’s Reid who first saw a 35-yarder deflected wide and then, with an injury-time free-kick, found the grateful arms of Kennedy.
The Robins had been the better side but up against a well-organised defence had struggled to do anything like the damage of their previous game at Stamford. The draw was fair but all watchers will hope for a better show in the FA Cup this coming weekend.
Saturday, September 6, 2014:
Matlock: 1 Jon Kennedy 2 Adam Yates 3 Joe Leesley 4 Corey Gregory (Leon Osborne 67) 5 David Haggerty 6 Oscar Radford 7 Jason Stokes 8 Josh Meade 9 Danny Holland (Lavell White 90) 10 James Ashmore 11 Liam Needham (c). Subs not used: Sam Robinson, Matt Andrews, Matty Leese
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith 2 Luke Shaw 3 James Reid 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. Subs not used: Matt Baker, Mike Williams, Rai Simons, Danny Gordon
Ref: Luke Watson
Star Robin: Chey Adams
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamoont (@_CLPhotography)