And that was certainly the case for Ilkeston on Tuesday night as they huffed and puffed to victory over a resilient Loughborough Dynamo who succeeded in frustrating the Robins for much of the game whilst remaining a constant threat on the break.
That latter factor led to an early Dynamo goal, some good chances missed and a red card for Ilkeston skipper Kieran Fenton late on, Ilkeston having to eventually dig deep to win the game thanks to Adam Chapman’s fine finish five minutes from time.
When all is said and done at the end of the season and wherever Ilkeston end up in the standings, it is only the three points that will matter, but they’ll be acutely aware that similar struggles against stronger sides they’re yet to face could end up with far fewer rewards.
The way this game started said a lot about how it would continue – Ilkeston beginning on the front foot with Chapman firing the first effort of note straight at keeper Ruben Rabstein four minutes in, but it then being Dynamo who would end up taking an early lead seconds later.
Kyle Jardine found Alex Steadman in the penalty area and, still with work to do, he held off a challenge and finished low into the corner of the net.
It was nearly two moments later as Jardine was then found by a hopeful ball over the top but could only find the side netting from a slight angle when he should have at least hit the target.
They’d pay for that straight away as Ilkeston levelled on eight minutes, Alex Troke curling in a fine cross from the left and Remaye Campbell getting up to head home from six yards out.
Jardine then forced Durrant to save a 25-yard half volley which was heading for the top corner, while Campbell warmed Rabstein’s hands at the other end with a low drive on 22 minutes, Troke then doing similar.
Joe Maguire then turned from villain to hero in a matter of seconds as he gave the ball away carelessly to Roger Lee and he fed Jardine who rounded Durrant but Maguire got back to block the goalbound shot and Ilkeston cleared.
Fenton then had a goal chalked off for offside having headed home Chapman’s free-kick, one of several set pieces the Robins had in the final third during the first-half without ultimate reward.
Zak Goodson had been largely quiet but saw a shot deflected just wide on the stroke of half-time, which arrived with Ilkeston having dominated possession but arguably fortunate not to be behind given the chances Dynamo missed.
Goodson drove straight at Rabstein again early in the second-half as the Robins began strongly once more, then it took until 65 minutes for another good opening when Charlie Wakefield fired wide after a good one-two with recent sub Aman Verma.
At the other end, Durrant pushed away an effort by Dynamo sub Kevin Da Silva Bastos, then Wakefield again went close but was denied by Rabstein’s parry.
Ilkeston were then dealt a blow when Fenton was sent off for a second bookable offence after hauling down Bastos just outside the penalty area, Curtis Burrows’ resultant free-kick well saved by Durrant but the Robins’ task of winning the game made that bit harder.
Robins sub Montel Gibson then mis-hit wide from close range after Chapman had headed a corner back into the six-yard box, the new arrival then nearly making amends with a turn and strike from distance which Rabstein pushed over the top.
Goodson shot straight at Rabstein who was being kept busy in the closing stages, but he could do little about the goal that came with five minutes to go.
It wasn’t the combination you’d have expected might produce such a moment, as centre-half Stern Irvine, having initially taken a throw-in and had the ball delivered back to him, dug out a cross from the right hand corner and it somehow found its way to Chapman – the ball slightly behind him – who turned and shot low into the corner of the net to spark wild celebrations.
Durrant had to be alert to save from Steadman as the game entered its 90th minute, but in the end the Robins held firm to claim another crucial three points and now face two away trips – to Histon and Spalding United – where they’ll aim to further cement top spot.
Ilkeston: Durrant, Williams, Irvine, Chapman, Maguire (Verma 64), Fenton, Goodson, Bird, Campbell, Troke (Gibson 64), Wakefield
Not used: Caine, Brown-Hill, Carvell
Loughborough: Rabstein, McNicholas, Young, Norris, Sibson, Lee, Steadman, Kamdem, Jardine (Bastos 46), Burrows (Tague 88), Collins (Akbas 46)
Not used: Alexander, Matthews.