Nantwich Town made it 13 league games unbeaten as they beat Ilkeston 3-2 at the New Manor Ground. In rainy conditions on a boggy pitch, the Dabbers started the first half strongly and were 1-0 inside 7 minutes as Matt Bell scored his 8th of the season with a low finish.
The away side added 2 more before half time, with Tom Peers and Sam Hall both scoring headers from crosses into the box. They could have had more, as Andy White saw a low shot tipped onto the post.
In the 2nd half, the Dabbers once again had chances to make it 4, as they had 2 chances cleared off the line and missed another through sub Steve Jones. Ilkeston pulled one back through Anthony Dwyer 20 minutes from time as his weak shot slipped past Dan Gyollai.
They had another 10 minutes later when Ben Morris scored a well taken 2nd. Ilkeston almost equalised when Tom Gamblen hit the post, but despite some scares in the final 10 minutes, the Dabbers held on to win and put some breathing space between themselves and the teams below them.
Phil Parkinson made 3 changes from the side that beat Warrington in midweek, with Joe Mwasile, Wayne Riley and Tom Peers coming in for Josh Hancock, Sean Cooke and Ryan Brooke respectively. The game had been in some doubt leading up to kick off, with a large amount of rain falling in the Derbyshire area throughout the morning. The referee inspected the pitch before deciding the game could go ahead.
The Dabbers started brightly on the soggy surface, with Bell testing out Robins keeper Dale Eve in the first 30 seconds. He worked some space in the box and shot straight at the stopper. Bell then got in behind the Robins defence, but his cut back was blocked for a corner.
The Dabbers were well on top and it didn’t take long for the first goal to arrive. A ball arrived at the feet of Bell and he found the bottom corner with a clinical finish. It was all Nantwich in the opening stages, with the wide players causing significant problems. Mwasile and Bell both had chances to extend the lead, but they were straight at Eve.
Nantwich came close to a 2nd when Mwasile got in down the left. His attempt to cut inside was blocked, but the resulting cross fell to John Johnston at the far post. He could only direct a close range header wide.
The 2nd goal did come on 22 minutes, when Johnston picked up a throw in on the left and swung a cross into the box. Peers met the ball and flicked a header into the far corner for his 4th goal of the season. Nantwich kept pressing despite going 2-0 up, with Johnston dragging a shot wide from the edge of the area.
The Dabbers had their 3rd just after the half hour mark though, as a corner into the box was met by a wide open Sam Hall, and he glanced into the far corner for just his 2nd of the season.
Despite looking in control and untroubled for most of the half, the Dabbers almost conceded when Luis Rose picked out a wide open Anthony Dwyer in the 6 yard box with a looping cross. He could only a direct a free header straight at Dan Gyollai when he really should have scored.
The Dabbers responded by almost scoring themselves, as White cut inside and hit a low shot on goal. Eve made a great fingertip save to push the ball onto the post. Joel Stair had the final chance of the half as he flicked a header wide of goal.
There was a change at half time, as Steve Jones came on for Mwasile. A few minutes in and there was a 2nd substitution, as Hancock came on for Sam Hall. The Dabbers kept up their pressure, with a corner into the box almost getting turned in by Stair. The ball was hastily cleared off the Robins line.
There were strong appeals for a penalty against Ilkeston on 56 minutes when Johnston beat 2 men on the byline. His ball towards goal deflected onto a covering Robins player and seemed to hit his hand. The Nantwich appeals fell on deaf ears.
From the resulting corner, a header went just over the bar. Steve Jones then had a chance as he beat 2 Ilkeston defenders, but skewed wide of goal. The final Dabbers change came on 63 minutes when White, who had picked up a knock, came off for Ryan Brooke. Wayne Riley switched to right back and Brooke went into the attacking midfield role.
Despite the Dabbers chances, Ilkeston were enjoying more of the ball in the 2nd half as they looked much brighter. They struggled to create any chances of note, with a blocked free kick as much as they could muster. But just when the game looked to be drawing to a drama free conclusion, the Robins suddenly burst into life.
Anthony Dwyer picked up the ball in the box and found some space to squeeze a shot off on goal. Gyollai looked to have easily gathered it, but the ball rolled between his legs and in to reduce the Dabbers lead to 2. Ilkeston had life and were turning up the pressure.
Ryan Brooke had a half chance when he shot wide from 25 yards. With 10 minutes to go though, the lively hosts got another back. The Dabbers lost the ball deep in their own half and Dwyer laid the ball off to sub Ben Morris, who calmly side footed into the far corner. After looking comfortable for large parts of the game, the Dabbers were suddenly in danger of letting the lead slip.
Barely a minute after the 2nd Ilkeston goal, they went close to equalising as another Robins sub, Tom Gamblen, found some space on the left and beat Gyollai with a low shot. The ball bounced off the far post and away to safety. It was a huge let off for the Dabbers and they looked to hit back.
Johnston beat his man on the left twice and won 2 corners, easing the pressure at the other end. Ilkeston were not going away though, and more good hold up play from Dwyer set the ball up nicely for Jaylon Bather. He curled narrowly wide of goal.
There was thankfully no more drama as the final 5 minutes of the game closed out without any incident. It meant the Dabbers sealed their 12th away win of the season and saw them move through the 70 point mark. They now face a top of the table clash at home to Blyth Spartans on Tuesday.
Ilkeston: Dale Eve, Max Thornberry, Charlie Scanlon, Dante Laverock, Matt Baker(c), Jaylon Bather(Connor Paine, 86), Luis Rose(Tom Gamblen, 79), Danny Gordon, Tevahn Tyrell(Ben Morris, 45), Anthony Dwyer, Reece Horne
Unused subs: Ryan Head, Jamie Hannis
Goalscorers: Dywer(72), Morris(80)
Nantwich Town: Dan Gyollai, Andy White(Ryan Brooke, 64), Ibou Touray, Joel Stair, Ben Harrison, Sam Hall(Josh Hancock, 49), John Johnston, Wayne Riley, Tom Peers, Matt Bell, Joe Mwasile(Steve Jones, 45)
Unused subs: Vinny Mukendi, Sean Cooke
Goalscorers: Bell(7), Peers(22), Hall(33)
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