The hosts knew before the game that a win would have all but guaranteed the championship, in fact by the end of the afternoon a draw would also have been enough to do so given results elsewhere once again gave Martin Carruthers’ men a helping hand on which they were unable to capitalise.
It all came down to the concession of poor goals from a defensive point of view and the inability to convert enough of the chances that came their way at the other end, the added pressure of expectation from the 2,000 fans in attendance evident once more as an overall flat display put any celebrations on hold.
It means a point at relegated Wisbech Town on Saturday is now what is required to heave Ilkeston over the line once and for all, but they can take nothing for granted as they continue to make hard work of the task at hand, although it’s still worth remembering this was only the Robins’ second defeat of 2022.
Shepshed came with no pressure on them given their mid-table status, which proved a deadly combination with the huge pressure on the hosts and that was reflected in the tense atmosphere at the New Manor Ground.
A quiet opening saw neither side a major threat until Shepshed’s John King forced an easy save from Saul Deeney ten minutes in.
Montel Gibson then broke free and fired across the face of goal on 19 as the Robins began to look more menacing, but out of nowhere it would be Shepshed who would go in front a minute later.
A ball over the top was misjudged by the heads of the Robins centre-backs and Reece Morris was able to run on and finish low into the far corner of the net.
Zak Goodson saw Brandon Ganley push a shot wide from a narrow angle on 32 as the Robins sought to respond, but again it was Dynamo who would deal another blow as King was allowed far too much space on the right from where he cut in and curled home a cracking effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Ilkeston responded quickly, a free-kick on the right from Billy Bennett finding Remaye Campbell who was unmarked and able to head home.
And it wasn’t long before the equaliser followed as Alex Troke’s cross was headed back across goal by Jack Thomas and Campbell was there again to head home from six yards out.
Dempsey Arlott-John, impressive throughout, should then have given the visitors the lead right on half-time when he suddenly found himself in on goal but blasted over the top when he should have hit the target.
Campbell was denied by a fine stop from Ganley early in the second-half as the Robins began well, Gibson also testing Ganley’s hands on the hour mark – had either of those efforts hit the net the outcome of the game would surely have been so different.
At the other end, Arlott-John beat two men before forcing Deeney to tip his effort over the top, Deeney again denying the Dynamo striker two minutes later when he’d got in behind the defence.
Chances dried up as Ilkeston dominated without again threatening Ganley, and the hosts were once more dealt a huge blow with Shepshed’s third goal, scored by King from close range after Jiah Medrano had been allowed to fight his way to the byline and pull the ball back.
Thomas put a volley over the bar from a narrow angle in response, while Arlott-John nearly lobbed Deeney from 45 yards but his shot dropped onto the roof of the net.
Kieran Fenton then stabbed the ball wide with three minutes left when a free-kick hadn’t been cleared, but Ilkeston’s efforts to get what would have been a title-clinching goal saw them inevitably left wide open at the back and when Dynamo cleared their lines and set Arlott-John free on goal with nobody around him, he finished well to seal the points for the visitors and leave everyone of an Ilkeston persuasion frustrated at what might have been and looking ahead to their final opportunity to seal the deal in five days’ time.
Ilkeston: Deeney, Brown-Hill, Bennett, Bird, Irvine, Fenton, Goodson, Troke (Reid 80), Campbell, Gibson, Thomas.
Not used: Verma, Jemson, Maguire, Carvell.
Shepshed: Ganley, Harper (O’Neil-Brooks 46), Pedrano, Smith, Betts, Prenderville, King, Ritzema, Arlott-John, Melbourne (Snedden 81), Morris.
Not used: Whymark, White