A GOAL for both sides early in each half ensured honours were even on Saturday, as Marine and Ilkeston fought out an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Arriva Stadium.
Nick Rogan’s tenth goal of the season after four minutes gave the Mariners the lead, with Jordan Smith levelling the match three minutes into the second half.
The home side found it difficult to capitalise on the early lead, with a man of the match display from goalkeeper Callum Williams keeping the visitors at bay with several great saves, although Andy Fowler might have won it for the home side in the dying minutes.
The opening goal came from an incisive move down the left, Danny Grannon advancing into opposition territory to feed John Shaw and the wing back’s perfect cross being dispatched by Rogan’s head from close range.
Williams had to clutch Jack Eades’ low cross as the Robins mounted their first real attack, with Rogan unable to get any real power on a shot at the other end before Liam Rice saw a volley blocked following another good cross from Shaw.
Ilkeston had two great chances to level, firstly Joe Maguire meeting a free kick at the far post with Williams producing a top drawer save to claw the ball away, and then Gary Ricketts putting a free header straight at the young keeper from six yards.
Ricketts must have thought he’d scored shortly afterwards, his rasping 25 yard drive from Smith’s lay off rocketing towards the top corner, but being foiled by a fabulous save from Williams to tip the ball over the bar.
Fowler went on a good run to supply Rogan inside the box, the striker turning and seeing his shot deflected narrowly wide of a post just before half time.
The equaliser came from a neat cross from Eades, Smith rising at the far post to head past the exposed Williams and level the match.
The Whites’ keeper was booked after bringing down Smith outside the box, the presence of two covering defenders leading to the correct decision by the referee, who had a decent game.
Russell Peel got into the box but once again found Williams to be too much of a barrier as he came off his line, before the introduction of Marine substitutes quickly led to a change in the balance of the game and a flurry of free kicks in good positions.
Fowler put a shot wide of the near post following Matty Devine’s break down the left, and then had another effort miss the target under pressure from the home defence.
Another good run and shot from Fowler clipped a defender’s heel as it headed towards the bottom corner, before Karl Noon scampered into the box to pull the ball back, Fowler arriving late but putting his shot over the top to miss the best chance of the half.
Ilkeston might also have snatched the win in injury time, Jack Watts sending in a dipping shot from distance which Williams again kept out at full stretch, to preserve a share of the spoils for the Mariners.
l Marine: Callum Williams, Shaun Dowling, John Shaw, Philip Ojapah (Matty Devine 61), Danny Grannon, Paul Jones, Paul Brown, Robbie Lawton (Cap), Andy Fowler, Nick Rogan (Liam Dawson 84), Liam Rice (Karl Noon 71). Unused subs: Alan Burton, Michael Ordish. Cautions: Williams.
l Ilkeston: Chris Martin, Curtis Thompson, Steven Smith, Jack Watts, Joe Maguire, Jide Maduako, Jack Eades, Ryan Wilson, Gary Ricketts (Cap), Jordan Smith (Dereece Gardner 90), Russell Peel (James Reid 77). Unused subs: Russell Cooke, James Cullingworth, Greg Pearson. Cautions: Wilson.
l Referee: Mr. Anthony Moore (Stockport); Assistants Mr. Terence Ratcliffe (Stockport), Mr. Josh Masheder (Stockport).
l Attendance: 338.