This was as good an away performance as you could wish to see from Ilkeston FC on a wet and windy Tuesday night in the north-east.
The circumstances didn’t favour them. Dreadful weather, a long trip, a very young side missing the influential James Reid and up against a team in good form having also made the third round of the FA Cup this season.
In the end, the Robins worked hard throughout with the defence outstanding, the midfield giving little away and although it took a while for things to click up top, a superb winner from Mike Williams eight minutes from time sealed the points - just eight minutes after Blyth had missed a penalty.
The game was open from the start and although it took a while for any real chances to be created, Akil Wright’s perfectly-timed tackle denied Blyth’s Dan Maguire a shot in the third minute.
The Robins’ defensive showing was the highlight of the victory, well-organised and blocking most that came their way, Blyth’s first shot not coming until the half-hour mark when Dan Maguire fired too high on the volley.
Maguire then headed Jarrett Rivers’ cross wide from 12 yards out as Blyth began to look more likely to score, then Michael Richardson tried a lob over Jordan Smith but the Robins keeper back pedalled enough to catch the effort with ease.
Rivers then turned inside the box but fired a low shot straight at Smith, Maguire next to show with an effort way too high as the sides evevntually went in at the break goalless - Ilkeston far the happier with that situation.
Ilkeston were having the occasional attacks throughout where one better decision might have created a clear chance, a good example coming early in the second-half when Williams opted to shoot when a pass to the open Rob Duffy might have proved fruitful.
On 64 minutes the visitors nearly nicked the lead, Williams’ flick from a David Morgan corner cleared off the line by Alex Nicholson.
Sub Eddy Samba then danced around a defender but saw his low shot pushed wide by keeper Nick Thomson as Ilkeston finally started to find a gear in attack.
The clearest opening of all then came on 75 minutes as Blyth were awarded a penalty when Lawrence Gorman brought Maguire to ground.
Spartans’ golden boy Robbie Dale stepped up but blasted his penalty high over the top to leave Ilkeston breathing a sigh of relief.
The miss would prove even more crucial on 82 minutes as the Robins nicked the winner.
Morgan floated a ball into Williams on the edge of the box and he controlled before firing in off the underside of the bar to stun the home crowd.
Rivers hit a shot at Smith with three minutes to go as Blyth sought a leveller their second-half display hadn’t really merited, sub and former Robin Neal Hooks then heading down at Smith moments later.
Williams curled a shot well wide in stoppage time, but in the end the referee brought a halt to proceedings after five minutes of stoppage time to confirm a quite stunning away win for the Robins which put them back into second place in the league.
Tuesday, March 3, 2015:
Blyth: 1 Nick Thomson 2 Alex Nicholson 3 Damen Mullen 4 Ryan Hutchinson 5 Danny Parker 6 Stephen Turnbull 7 Jarrett Rivers 8 Michael Richardson (Neal Hooks 86) 9 Dan Maguire 10 Matthew Wade (Craig Lynch 86) 11 Robbie Dale (c). Subs not used: Arran Wearmouth, Steven Turnbull, Ryan Cummings
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith 2 Danny Gordon 3 Jack Lane 4 Akil Wright 5 Joe Maguire (c) 6 Lawrence Gorman 7 David Morgan 8 Callum Chettle 9 Rob Duffy (Eddy Samba 57) 10 Mike Williams 11 Jake Wright. Subs not used: Eli Bako, Curtis Burrows, Brad Fortnam-Tomlinson
Ref: Helen Conley
Star Robin: Akil Wright