Dan Udoh’s header ensured Ilkeston FC extended their unbeaten run to four games with a hard-fought draw at struggling Stamford on Tuesday night.
On a chilly evening Lincolnshire, both sides juggled possession in the opening exchanges. Paul McKay occupied the holding role with Joe Doyle and Mike Williams allowed freedom to play off Lee Ndlovu and Paul’s twin brother Jack McKay.
Ilkeston began to press around ten minutes into the game. Williams’ corner bounced off several Stamford defenders and resulted in a succession of additional corners, all of which were cleared by the hosts.
Stamford began to warm into the game after the early Robins corner onslaught. Andy Hall found Jordan Neil who delivered a wicked ball in which Matt Baker cleared.
Stamford’s resulting corner then saw Neil fire over the bar from three yards out.
But after 16 minutes, Stamford opening the scoring.
Nabil Shariff found himself in space on the edge of the Ilkeston penalty area after the Robins half cleared a ball into the box. Shariff unleashed a thunderous effort which beat the out-stretched hand of visiting keeper Ross Durrant and rocketed into the top corner.
Ilkeston responded quickly through Ndlovu, who broke through an encirclement of Stamford players on the edge of the box before forcing a low fingertip save from keeper Richard Knight who would prove the Robins’ nemesis for much of the evening.
Williams then collected the ball on the edge of the box after Marcus Harness did well to lay the ball off, the Welshman sizzling an effort just wide of the near post.
The midfield battle was proving to be key in the game with Stamford working hard to deny Udoh, who had come on for the injured Jack McKay, and Ndlovu time to link with Paul McKay and Williams.
Ilkeston pressed towards the end of the half, Paul McKay’s free-kick flew over the bar from 26 yards and the Robins had a disallowed goal as Olly Luto crossed for Ndlovu to tap in but the flag went up for offside.
However, the Robins’ persistence finally paid off just before half-time, as Williams’ wonderful cross towards the back post was nodded home by Udoh for the equaliser.
The second-half saw several chances for both sides, Williams stung the fingertips of the Stamford keeper with a venomous shot inside the box which Knight palmed away.
Paul McKay was next to test the hosts’ shot-stopper as he curled a dipping beauty towards the bottom corner which forced another save from Knight who tipped away.
Nathan Hicks came on for Stamford and with his first and second touches chested the ball inside the box and fired over the bar.
Ilkeston had late opportunities to win the game through Baker who headed over the bar and Williams who forced another sharp stop from Knight, but ultimately the game would end with the spoils shared and the Robins’ unbeaten run intact.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015:
Stamford: 1 Richard Knight (c) 2 Ellis Myles 3 Nathan Fox 4 Roger Lee 5 Dominic McGarr 6 Lewis Carr 7 Shawn Richards (Richard Jones 77) 8 Tom McGowan 9 Nabil Shariff 10 Andy Hall (Daniel Clements 61) 11 Jordan Neil (Nathan Hicks 70) Subs not used: Will Rawdon
Ilkeston: 1 Ross Durrant 2 Marcus Harness 62) 3 Olly Luto 4 Matt Baker 5 Jordan Wheatley 6 Liam Marshall (c) (Joe Burgess 82) 7 Joe Doyle 8 Paul McKay 9 Lee Ndlovu (Eli Bako 75) 10 Jack McKay (Dan Udoh 27) 11 Mike Williams. Subs not used: Eli Bako, Charlie Coulson, Evandro Rachoni
Ref: Hristo Karaivanov
Star Robin: Dan Udoh