Goals from JJ Blake and Dexter Atkinson saw Ilkeston FC return to winning ways after a professional and complete away performance at Sutton Coldfield.
It was the Robins’ first league win since December 5 and moved them to within six points of the play-off places.
Ilkeston operated with Dan Udoh and Lee Ndlovu up top, Mike Williams sat just in behind and Blake and Joe Doyle were in the holding role. Luke Shaw and Haydn Goddard occupied the wing-back positions.
With fantastic travelling support once again for Ilkeston, the Robins started well; with positivity and quick passing on a quick surface.
This was added to with high pressure and work rate from Ilkeston. The hosts started well and earned a corner which was delivered to the edge of the box where skipper Joel Kettle could only mis-cue his strike totally.
A low key start to the half was coupled with Ilkeston struggling to make the final pass stick. Shaw glided past two challenges before passing to Williams and the midfielder sent Ndlovu through but the pass was too long.
But after 19 minutes, Ilkeston took the lead with something magical. Blake won a free-kick 27 yards out and he stepped up and curled a fine effort into the top corner to the delight of the travelling Ilkeston fans.
Sutton nearly responded but Malachi Farquharson could only blaze over the bar from three yards after the ball was nodded into his path.
Ilkeston were looking to add to the lead. Shaw was majestic again in dancing past two challenges before playing in Williams who could only drive the ball over.
The hosts’ task of getting back into the game was made a daunting one when Andre Gonzales was sent off for a high tackle on Jordan Wheatley. The defender did win the ball but the execution of the tackle which involved a high foot was deemed a straight red card offence by the referee.
The second-half began in dominant fashion for Ilkeston, Shaw found Ndlovu wide right, he whipped in a dangerous ball which found Williams in the box and he teed up Blake who fired wide.
Williams was hugely influential throughout the second-half and he next found Shaw outside the box but loose control meant the ball eluded the full-back.
Sutton continued to look for a way back into the game but Matt Baker was again crucial in stopping counter attacks. Aaron Forde found Ryan Edmunds inside the box and he forced a sublime save from Jamie Hannis who tipped the ball wide.
Ilkeston looked dangerous on the attack. Doyle turned his man and drove towards the box before finding Williams who couldn’t square for Ndlovu inside the box. Williams then came close again, firing wide of the top corner.
Sutton had a big chance to equalise after 74 minutes when they wona free-kick; Scott Lycett fired into the Robins wall before the rebound was also blocked by a tenacious Ilkeston defence.
Ilkeston operated on the counter-attack in the final stages and were saved again by Hannis who did well to palm away Stephen Palmer’s low effort.
Ilkeston had chances to kill the game off late on. Ndlovu was released by Doyle and raced clean through with Atkinson for support but Sutton did tremendously well to cut the ball out as Ndlovu went to square to Atkinson.
But in stoppage time, the Robins did make it two. A blistering counter-attack saw Atkinson find Blake who then played Atkinson clean through. The striker showed his quality, pace and composure to finish past Wren and round off a complete away performance and secure a crucial three points.
Next up for Ilkeston FC is the visit of Frickley Athletic to the New Manor Ground on Monday evening, 7.45pm kick off.
Ilkeston: Jamie Hannis, Luke Shaw, Haydn Goddard, Jordan Wheatley, Matt Baker, Joe Burgess(c), Joe Doyle, JJ Blake, Dan Udoh (Dexter Atkinson 63), Lee Ndlovu, Mike Williams.
Subs Not Used: Liam Marshall, Eli Bako, Danny Gordon, Charlie Coulson.
Sutton Coldfield Town: James Wren, Nathan Millichamp, Andre Gonzales, Aaron Forde, Joel Kettle(c), Scott Lycett, Ryan Edmunds (James Beresford 72), Stephen Palmer (Craig Reid 63), Malachi Farquharson, Danny O’Callaghan, Tom Turton.
Subs Not Used: James Jobson, James Harrison.