Daventry, struggling towards the bottom of the table but safe from any relegation fears, gave the Robins more problems than the hosts might have expected and made them work for their win, which keeps Martin Carruthers’ men three points clear at the top with three games to go and with goal difference on their side too.
That could mean, all being well, the title will be all but theirs by the time the Easter Bank Holiday comes to an end, but nothing can be taken for granted just yet as the pressure of being top continues to weigh heavily on the Robins players which is reflecting on some of their displays.
Here, they needed a winner from Montel Gibson 14 minutes from time to take the points they ultimately deserved to claim despite some worrying moments throughout but these issues will matter little when all is said and done if silverware is in their hands.
The first chance came nine minutes in when Gibson cut inside and saw his 25-yarder superbly tipped wide by Daventry keeper James Martin.
At the other end, Tom Lorraine glanced a header wide from a corner after it had been flicked on at the near post, then Jack Finch also got his head to a set piece moments later but put the ball over the bar – another warning for the hosts.
Gibson headed a corner wide on 25 as Ilkeston tried to get a foothold in the game but thus far they’d been wasteful in possession despite some promising positions, Jack Thomas’s shot from distance next to threaten but wide of the target.
Daventry remained a threat and Lorraine’s low shot saw Saul Deeney fumble before gathering, but it would be Ilkeston who would finally get the lead on 38 minutes.
Thomas spread the ball out wide to Ollie Brown-Hill who beat his man down the left and cut back to the penalty spot where Thomas was on hand to fire low into the corner of the net.
The Robins needed to keep it tight until the break but having conceded a number of free-kicks in attacking areas, they finally paid for it with the last kick of the half as a set piece was swung in from the left and when it wasn’t dealt with, the ball fell to Jack Bowen who headed home via the hand of Deeney.
The Robins keeper had to push an early second-half effort from Lorraine away from danger as the visitors threatened again in the opening moments, a long throw then causing havoc but Finch’s header was blocked on the line by one of his team-mates.
Sub Charlie Wakefield was introduced on 57 minutes and nearly scored four minutes later, his low shot just past Martin’s right-hand post.
The Robins then should have led on 68 when good work from Wakefield saw him square to Remaye Campbell who, with loads of time to score, somehow put the ball wide from eight yards out.
But they were to regain the lead on 76 minutes when Thomas knocked a lovely ball over the top to Gibson and he held off his man before volleying home via a deflection.
The Robins saw the game out with few scares aside from one or two more set pieces and long throws that they just about managed to cope with, results elsewhere meaning the situation at the top didn’t alter as the top four jostle for honours.
Ilkeston: Deeney, Brown-Hill, Bennett, Reid (Wakefield 56), Irvine, Fenton, Goodson, Bird, Campbell (Troke 73), Gibson, Thomas.
Not used: Jemson, Maguire, Carvell.
Daventry: Martin, Childs, McNeil, Harris, Burgess, Confue, Ball (Nketia 75), Finch, Bowen, Lorraine, Orosz
Not used: Coleman, Andrews.