REPORT: Ilkeston Town 2-2 Halesowen Town - Robins pegged back in top-of-the-table clash

While this match was never going to decide the destination of the league title just yet, it did end up emphasising how likely the race is to go right to the wire.

Saturday, 29th January 2022, 7:58 pm
Updated Saturday, 29th January 2022, 8:10 pm
Zak Goodson scores Ilkeston's second goal. Photo: Craig Lamont
Zak Goodson scores Ilkeston's second goal. Photo: Craig Lamont

In front of a crowd of nearly 2,500, there was very little between these two sides throughout the afternoon, even after Halesowen were reduced to ten men with 11 minutes left, the visitors able to come back from behind twice to earn a point which keeps the two sides level at the top.

Ilkeston have the edge on goal difference although their finishing touch eluded them at times today, the two goals they did score being taken well but other chances coming and going without the net bulging.

That could be said for both sides, but the Robins’ weaknesses in defence were again evident at times and were ultimately the difference between taking one point and three.

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Alex Troke celebrates scoring the Robins' first goal. Photo: Craig Lamont.

But they march on as leaders and in the knowledge that title glory remains, only just, in their own hands.

An error by Joe Maguire gave Halesowen the first clear opening eight minutes in, Chris Lait running on to slide the ball past the post when he should have hit the target.

It took until the 23rd minute for the next chance of note, Simeon Cobourne’s shot from a very tight angle blocked by Robins keeper Ross Durrant’s legs.

But it was the Robins who would lead on 26 minutes, as after a scramble for possession on the edge of the penalty area, the ball broke to Alex Troke who hammered a powerful strike into the top corner at the keeper’s near post from ten yards out.

Cobourne scuffed a shot wide on the half-hour as Halesowen tried to respond, then Richard Gregory’s 30-yard free-kick dropped just wide of Durrant’s goal, the same player forcing Durrant into a good save low down from distance as the half came to a close.

The second-half began slowly before Cobourne cut inside on 57 minutes and struck the underside of the crossbar, Lait firing the rebound over the top when he should have scored.

Chances dried up a little before the equaliser finally came on 78 minutes, as a scramble in the penalty area saw the ball break to Lait and he was able to turn and fire low into the net.

Halesowen were then reduced to ten men when Josh Hawker saw red for a poor challenge on Troke, and things would get even worse for them just moments later.

A ball forward came off the head of a Yeltz defender and Zak Goodson had lots of time to run on and finish confidently past Dan Platt.

But four minutes later, Ilkeston couldn’t clear as Halesowen bombarded them and Cobourne’s low shot found the net off a post to level things up once again.

Jared Bird saw a shot well saved by Platt in stoppage time as the Robins came close to a winner, then Campbell headed straight at the Yeltz keeper with virtually the last touch of the game, but honours were ultimately – and fairly – even.

Ilkeston: Durrant, Williams, Wakefield, Chapman, Maguire, Fenton ©, Goodson, Bird, Campbell, Troke, Gibson (Irvine 59)

Not used: Reid, Caine, Brown-Hill, Carvell

Halesowen: Platt, Evans (Birch 54), Wright (Ali 63), Hawker, McCone ©, Kelly, Lait, Manning, Cobourne, Gregory, Finn (Smith 72)

Not used: Scott, Holmes