Three quarters of this game was a typical end of season, nothing to play for, dead rubber borefest. The last 20 minutes or so were anything but.
Six goals rained in late on - five of them from the Robins to put a shine on their promising end to the league campaign.
What preceded the flurry was largely dull as Trafford, fielding a much weaker side than usual due to a county cup final date 48 hours later, frustrated an Ilkeston team itself not at full strength given the final also on the horizon for Kevin Wilson’s men.
Chey Adams forced home keeper Hayden-Buckley Smith into a good save early on and a few other half chances went begging for Ilkeston but Trafford opened the scoring with their first shot on goal on 35 minutes, Ali Nsangou finishing well and celebrating with a triple somersault for good measure.
The second-half was much the same initially, with the added entertainment of several of Ilkeston’s fancy-dressed supporters doing a moderately choreographed ‘Conga’ around the ground.
Kane Richards and Adams squandered reasonable openings before the equaliser came on 68 minutes, Joe Maguire nodding home from close range after James Reid’s free-kick wasn’t cleared.
There was a combination of quality and comedy for the Robins’ second three minutes later, Adams superbly bursting into the box before firing across the keeper and against the post. The ball then hit defender Steve Mason before going back into the goal via the same post, Mason left flat on the floor.
Trafford levelled almost straight away, Oliver Riley with a fine side-footed strike from outside the penalty area which left keeper Ross Etheridge little chance as it flew into the top corner.
But Ilkeston would turn the screw in the final ten minutes as the hosts tired and the fresh legs of subs Luke Shaw, Mike Williams and Goran Seymour took full effect.
On 81 minutes, Richards charged into the penalty area only to be upended by the unfortunate Mason, Reid stepping up to powerfully fire home the spot-kick although Buckley-Smith did get a good hand on the ball.
Richards then tested the keeper from an angle but the fourth goal came on 85 minutes and Reid was again involved as this time he cut in from the left and fired in a shot which Buckley-Smith parried but only into the path of youngster Shaw who netted his first Robins goal from a few yards out.
The game, and indeed the league season, was then wrapped up in some style as the game entered stoppage time. The ball found its way to Williams some 25 yards out and he proceeded to hammer a stunning strike into the top corner to send the Robins fans once again into joyous celebration behind the goal.
The visitors had deserved their victory even if it took a while for them to get into full swing against their inexperienced opponents.
The recent switch to 3-5-2 again paid dividends and the displays of the teenagers on show gave yet more cause for optimism going forward into the next campaign - a final position of 17th place perhaps not quite what Kevin Wilson will have dreamed of nine months ago but meaning food for thought is certainly on the menu for the coming weeks.
Saturday, April 26, 2014:
Trafford: 1 Hayden Buckley-Smith 2 Jamie Allen (Steve Mason 49) 3 Ben Woods 4 Callum Jones 5 Nia Bayunu 6 Chris Palmer (c) 7 Clevon Beadle 8 Oliver Riley 9 Ali Nsangou (Mark Derbyshire 59) 10 Joe Martin (Louis James 64) 11 Luke Heron. Subs not used: Akime Pinder, Jake Brown
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Etheridge 2 Danny Gordon (Luke Shaw 78) 3 James Reid 4 Akil Wright 5 Joe Maguire (c) 6 Ryan Wilson 7 Chey Adams 8 Callum Chettle (Mike Williams 62) 9 Kane Richards 10 Rob Duffy (Goran Seymour 78) 11 Eli Bako. Subs not used: Matt Baker, Curtis Burrows
Att: 300 Ref: M Woods
Star Robin: James Reid
Report by Mark Duffy (Twitter: @DuffersSport)
Photos by Rob Stephenson (@sportsphotorob)