Report/Video: Ilkeston 1-1 Blyth Spartans

The Robins’ unbeaten run goes on but it could and probably should have been three points rather than just one at the New Manor Ground on Monday night.

An injury-time equaliser from FA Cup heroes Blyth Spartans would deny the hosts an impressive win that it looked like they’d done enough to secure thanks to substitute Eddy Samba’s goal early in the second-half.

Eddy Samba celebrates his goal. Photo by Craig Lamont.

Eddy Samba celebrates his goal. Photo by Craig Lamont.

It wasn’t the first time costly late goals have gone against Ilkeston at the New Manor Ground, the inability to kill the game off proving the Robins’ downfall once again.

But a third draw in a row means it’s 17 games unbeaten in all competitions, and that remains a stat to be proud of ahead of some crucial upcoming games.

On the balance of play, a draw could be deemed fair in this one as the visitors looked the better and more compact side for most of the first period, which was a cagey affair as Ilkeston failed to establish themselves, especially in midfield.

Spartans’ Dan Maguire glanced a header wide from Stephen Turnbull’s corner on 14 minutes, before at the other end Arinse Uade fired straight at keeper Peter Jeffries.

Stephen Turnbull, bizarrely accompanied in Blyth’s midfield by Steven Turnbull, then saw a shot deflected into the hands of Jordan Smith after his initial free-kick was blocked.

Ilkeston’s best chance, aside from a James Reid cross-come-shot which drifted just wide, came when Joe Maguire got free at a corner but should have done better than head well wide of the goal.

The Robins had much more vigour about them in the second-half and soon got a stronghold on the game.

Things really changed when Rob Duffy beat Jeffries to a long ball but his header wasn’t strong enough to make the back of the net, although Duffy was clattered by Jeffries in the process.

That signalled the end of his involvement in the game but the start of Samba’s, and within two minutes of the new signing’s arrival he’d put the home side in front.

Reid’s throw found Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson whose low shot was spilled by Jeffries, Samba following up to control and then smash home the rebound from six yards out.

Samba would have quite an influence on proceedings with several lively bursts including one which saw him fire straight at Jeffries from a tight angle on 71 minutes.

Before that, Fortnam-Tomlinson had fired too high from a rebound after Simons had been sent clear but had his shot blocked by Jeffries.

Blyth had been fairly quiet in the second period but always looked a threat going forward, particularly their talisman Robbie Dale who with ten minutes left cut inside but saw his dipping shot strike the top of the crossbar.

Akil Wright threw himself in front of a Dan Maguire shot late on to help keep the lead Ilkeston were working very hard to protect, but ultimately they’d fail to do so to the end.

That’s because as the game entered stoppage time Blyth struck the equaliser they had looked like they might steal in the latter stages.

Dale created it, swinging in a cross which Steven Turnbull met with a fine looping header to beat Smith.

Further late Blyth pressure was absorbed but Ilkeston were left to agonise over what on paper was a reasonable point, but in reality was two key points dropped.

Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith, 2 James Reid, 3 Arinse Uade, 4 Matt Baker, 5 Joe Maguire (c), 6 Jack Lane, 7 Akil Wright, 8 Callum Chettle, 9 Rob Duffy (Eddy Samba 56), 10 Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson (Mike Williams 75), 11 Rai Simons (Lawrence Gorman 87)

Subs not used: Elliott Hodgett-Young, Luke Shaw

Blyth: 1 Peter Jeffries, 2 Joel Dixon, 3 Jordan Watson (Alex Nicholson 78), 4 Ryan Hutchinson, 5 Nathan Buddle, 6 Stephen Turnbull, 7 Jarrett Rivers, 8 Neal Hooks (Danny Parker 82), 9 Dan Maguire, 10 Steven Turnbull, 11 Robbie Dale

12 Ryan Cummings, 15 Samuel Perez, 17 Niall Harrison

Ref: S Mulhall

Att: 816

Star Robin: Matt Baker

Video courtesy of Ilkeston TV