In a match between two mid-table sides with similar records and who both register and concede their fair share of goals, perhaps a score draw was always the most likely outcome.
And so it proved in Cheshire on Saturday as Nantwich and Ilkeston battled it out for points that, given their current positions, may not mean too much come the end of the season but nevertheless proved useful for both sides given the hosts had lost their previous three and Ilkeston are in a reasonable spell of form.
It wasn’t a game blessed with too much quality but the result was in doubt right to the end with both sides fancying the three points all along.
The first-half was one of two halves.
Ilkeston started well and James Reid’s early free-kick tested Steve James in the Town goal, but ten minutes in the Robins would take the lead as a break forward ended with Kane Richards finding cousin Matt 12 yards out left of centre and his shot took a deflection before slowly making its way into the far corner of the net.
Aaron Burns nearly levelled immediately but saw his low shot saved by Ross Etheridge, however the Nantwich striker wouldn’t be denied four minutes later.
Steve Foster ran onto a long ball forward but as he made his way into the penalty area, his legs got tangled up in those of defender Joe Maguire and down the Nantwich man went - a penalty the expected and resultant outcome. Up stepped Burns to score low to Etheridge’s left.
Reid and Nantwich’s Oliver Devenney both saw shots straight at the respective goalkeepers and Kane Richards then beat two men as he cut inside but his eventual effort was too high.
Burns’ volley on the half-hour mark was deflected just wide, before the same player had another opportunity to score from the spot just two minutes later.
The offender was Maguire again, meaning he has now conceded four penalties in the last seven games, three of which have been incredibly poor decisions by the presiding referee.
That applied on this occasion too as Maguire appeared to cleanly win the ball as Burns ran into the penalty area, but this time Burns’ effort went into the ‘justice was done’ category as Etheridge guessed right to parry it away.
Nantwich weren’t to be denied the lead for long, however, as on 36 minutes a corner from the right wasn’t cleared effectively and Foster managed to volley home from a few yards out.
Burns and Devenney both saw further efforts go close but Ilkeston made it to the break with just a one-goal deficit to make up.
That they did within seven minutes of the second-half starting and this time Maguire was doing his thing in an attacking sense as Reid’s corner dropped to the centre-half in the six-yard box and he prodded home to level the scores.
Robins skipper Laurie Wilson was subbed not long afterwards having got into a few too many arguments with opposition players and the referee, and from then on it was mostly half chances created as Town’s Haughton and Burns and Ilkeston’s Gary Ricketts came close to finding a winner.
They didn’t come as close as Ilkeston sub Rai Simons. His introduction nearly proved a master-stroke as firstly he headed against the crossbar from a Matt Richards cross on 85 minutes, then, with the last kick of the game, put a tricky chance into the goalkeeper’s hands when through on goal but under pressure from a defender, and the points were destined to be shared.
Saturday, March 1, 2014:
Nantwich: 1 Steve James 2 Andrew Pearson 3 Andy White 4 Andy Keogh 5 Earl Davis 6 Mat Bailey (c) 7 Josh Eastwood 8 Oliver Devenney (Alex Meaney 73) 9 Aaron Burns 10 Steve Foster 11 Nick Haughton (Peter Green 73). Subs not used: Alex Frost, Ben Deegan, Sam Wilson
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Akil Wright 3 Ellis Storey 4 Laurie Wilson (c) (Chey Adams 63) 5 Joe Maguire 6 Matt Baker 7 James Reid 8 Callum Chettle 9 Gary Ricketts 10 Kane Richards (Rai Simons 79) 11 Matt Richards. Subs not used: Ryan Swift, Luke Shaw, Mike Williams
Att: 260 Ref: Nick Bernard
Star Robin: Akil Wright
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter - @DuffersSport)
Photos by Craig Lamont (@MrBarfly)