A performance with fight and passion from Ilkeston was the order of the day for this tricky test at the New Manor Ground. Neither were forthcoming.
If the Robins don’t get promoted this season they will look back on an increasing number of days like this where they have failed to show any real quality in the final third or bite in midfield, indeed in this encounter they didn’t even manage a shot on target.
Workington were excellent and could well get promoted in the next fortnight, but they didn’t really need to get out of second gear to secure themselves what is now a guaranteed home play-off semi-final.
It remains true that Ilkeston have a very young side and have lost key players along the way in this remarkable season, but to throw any promotion hopes away in this kind of fashion will be a tough pill for anyone at the NMG to swallow.
The Robins were simply second best throughout in the Saturday sunshine.
Workington had the first chance three minutes in when a looping header from Matt Tymon from a right-wing throw in dropped just wide.
That would prove to be one of very few openings in the first half-an-hour as neither side could get a grip on the game, although Workington looked the more likely side as they patiently waited for their chance with Ilkeston struggling to produce any quality going forward.
The opening goal finally came on 33 minutes as the ball fell to Scott Allison just inside the penalty area and he steered a low shot into the far corner past Jordan Smith.
Joe Burgess headed over the top a couple of minutes later from a James Reid free-kick, but half-time arrived with very little for Ilkeston to shout about.
Smith had to be on hand to palm away a dangerous Workington cross early in the second-half as the visitors looked for a second and from the corner, Kyle May’s header was cleared off the line by Reid.
Allison was then denied by a fine Joe Maguire tackle as Workington attacked well again down the right, but the second goal would duly arrive on 65 minutes.
A corner was swung in from the right and after Tymon’s header was blocked on the line, Alex Salmon followed up to hook the ball home from a couple of yards out.
Sub Rai Simons should have pulled one back soon afterwards when sent in on goal but a poor touch saw the ball find keeper Jonny Jamieson’s hands rather than the back of the net, and Workington then nearly netted themselves but Tymon headed against the post from a left wing cross.
At the other end, Kane Richards cut inside but ballooned his shot horribly wide.
A third goal seemed inevitable for Workington and it came when Jake Simpson’s right wing cross was bundled in by sub Anthony Wright to compound Ilkeston’s misery.
Tymon looped an effort against the post with four minutes left, but the visitors had done more than enough and, should Blyth Spartans beat relegated Trafford on Tuesday, Ilkeston will face a crucial game at Nantwich Town to secure a play-off place.
Ilkeston: 1 Jordan Smith, 2 Joe Burgess, 3 James Reid, 4 Matt Baker, 5 Joe Maguire (c), 6 Jack Lane, 7 Mitch Rose, 8 Callum Chettle, 9 Jack Watts (Rai Simons 61), 10 Kane Richards, 11 Mike Williams (Jack Sowerby 72)
Subs not used: Lawrence Gorman, Eli Bako, Jordan Wright
Workington: 1 Jonny Jamieson, 2 Jake Simpson, 3 Gari Rowntree (c), 4 Kyle May, 5 Josh Calvert (Danny O’Donnell 64), 6 Gavin Skelton (Anthony Wright 49), 7 Scott Allison (Gareth Arnison 80), 8 Phil McLuckie, 9 Matt Tymon, 10 Alex Salmon, 11 Conor Tinnion
Subs not used: Alex Newby, Sam Smith, Gareth Arnison