Three first-half goals condemned the Robins to their first defeat under Andy Watson in stormy conditions in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy.
It means Ilkeston have lost out to clubs from the division below in both major cup competitions this season, Rugby Town having seen them off in the FA Cup in September.
In blustery and wet conditions, the game began at a slow pace. Both sides were aiming to control the midfield but evidently both were nervy.
Dan Udoh was partnered by Curtis Burrows and Lee Ndlovu. Joe Doyle and JJ Blake were holding, with Marcus Harness and Aiden Print wing-backs. The likes of Jordan Wheatley, Rhys Dolan and Lewis Walker were rested ahead of the FA Youth Cup tie against Shrewsbury on Wednesday night.
As expected, Steels took the game to the Robins early on; Scott Ruthven’s ball across the face was knocked behind for a corner. Then three Steels corners were wasted by the hosts.
Richard Patterson generated the first effort of the game. His curler was straight at Evandro Rachoni from the edge of the box.
Ilkeston created after 23 minutes as Ndlovu found Harness who then released Ndlovu again. The striker got into the box but a good recovery tackle led to a corner. The corner was delivered by Charlie Coulson but Burrows’ header was saved.
After 25 minutes, Steels led. A ball into the box was met by Patterson whose header took a nick on its way through and found the corner to leave Rachoni helpless.
Nine minutes later, Ben Rhodes doubled the lead. He drove a shot which found the low bottom corner from outside the box.
The Robins pulled one back as the half began to open up, Ndlovu was sent through by Udoh, and checked inside before finding Blake who buried the ball into the bottom corner.
Stocksbridge then regained their two-goal advantage three minutes later. A corner was whipped in and somehow travelled all the way to the back post where Liam McFayden was on hand with a captain’s contribution to head home.
The second-half presented a prime example of attack versus defence. Stocksbridge rarely ventured into the Robins half. Ilkeston started with regained composure and were hassling the Steels players.
Ilkeston got the start to the second-half they wanted, as a long ball into the box by Harness was headed into his own net by Matt Reay.
The Robins rallied and continued to press, Olly Luto’s corner eluded everyone when the ball just needed a touch.
Charlie Coulson, Dexter Atkinson and Danny Gordon were introduced in the second-half by Watson, Joe Doyle picking up a knock early on in the half.
The three subs tightened Ilkeston’s midfield up and aided in attack. Burrows nearly found an equaliser when his chipped effort shaved the bar from an Udoh pass.
But Stocksbridge held out and booked their spot in the next round where they will travel to holders North Ferriby United, and in turn ended the Robins’ unbeaten run in all competitions to the disappointment of the fans and head coach Watson.
Next up for Ilkeston is the visit of Hyde United on Saturday as the Robins look to extend their unbeaten league run to eight games.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015:
Stocksbridge: 1 David Reay 2 Josh Meade (Andrew Fox 79) 3 Jack Poulton (Ryan Laight 5) 4 Richard Patterson 5 Liam McFadyen (c) 6 Matthew Reay 7 Ben Rhodes 8 Harrison Biggins 9 Scott Ruthven 10 Joe Lumsden (Lee Garside 51) 11 Corey Gregory
Subs not used: Louis Shaw, Lee Thompson
Ilkeston: 1 Evandro Rachoni 2 Marcus Harness 3 Aiden Print 4 Joe Burgess (c) 5 Matt Baker 6 Olly Luto 7 Joe Doyle (Charlie Coulson 69) 8 JJ Blake (Danny Gordon 79) 9 Dan Udoh 10 Lee Ndlovu 11 Curtis Burrows (Dexter Atkinson 79)
Subs not used: Eli Bako, Jahquil Hill