Gainsborough Trinity extended their winless run to four matches as they lost 0-1 to Ilkeston Town at the KAL Group Stadium, on Saturday.
Rainy Lincolnshire weather threatened to postpone Northern Premier League action at the KAL Group Stadium, but a pitch inspection deemed the surface playable and ensured we’d have some action.
Gainsborough came into the game in mixed form, a defeat last time out to FC United of Manchester ended their unbeaten home run. Manager Russ Wilcox would have been expecting a big response from his side.
In the hope of being more effective at the top of the pitch, the vastly experienced manager gave 18-year-old striker Justin Iwobi his first league start since his loan move from Halifax last month.
The visitors were Ilkeston Town, who came in similarly patchy form but a goalless draw at Marine was something to build on for The Robins.
A scenic sunset framed the opening exchanges as Ilkeston began the game slightly on top. Several Llarell King long-throws threatened the Trinity defence, but they defended well.
Robin’s manager Ian Deakin’s voice was the loudest in the stadium early on, demanding more from his side to take advantage of a slow Gainsborough start.
Despite the tempo being high and a few strong challenges being put in there were few chances of note in the opening 20 minutes, both sides feeling their way into the affair.
Then on 24 minutes a moment of pure brilliance opened the scoring. Jaime Walker spotted Trinity keeper Bottomley off his line and shot from just inside the Holy Blue’s half to spectacularly lob the ball into the net. An outstanding goal that was by far the standout moment of a cagey affair.
A feisty moment on the near touchline followed as Daniel Devine was booked for a very late sliding tackle sparking strong reactions from the Ilkeston bench.
Trinity battled to fashion any chance they could, but a lack of quality and a robust Robin’s defence meant the game had fallen into a bit of a stalemate.
There was some more encouraging possession from Gainsborough as the half came to a close, but the sides went in at the break without The Holy Blues having any chances of note.
The second period began in a much more positive manner for Trinity. Iwobi found his strike partner Declan Howe with a lovely through ball to put him one on one with the keeper. Howe tried to round Yates, but he ended up with the ball stuck under is feet and the keeper could save easily.
Ilkeston were not to be pushed down that easily though and responded well. Ren Starkie with a good chance from the edge of the area stung the palms of Bottomley.
A long Ashley Jackson throw created a half chance for Howe on 55 minutes, the top-scorer spun and shot but Yates got down to his left to save well.
Frustration was growing for Gainsborough as they continued to struggle in the final third, lots of good possession but with not a lot to show for it.
Russ Wilcox rolled the dice with 20 to play, making three changes in the hope some fresh legs could stretch the Ilkeston defence.
Howe had another opportunity on 86 minutes, a clever disguised pass from Wallace put him through but again the striker could only find the strong left hand of Yates.
It was backs against the wall stuff for Ilkeston as the game entered the seven minutes of added time, Trinity sending cross after cross into the area.
It took Gainsborough until the 97th minute to create their best chance of the game, a good passing move ended up at the feet of Bailey Conway who simply had to score. He fired straight at the defender on the line and Ilkeston held on.
Although despite an encouraging second half Trinity couldn’t find the goal and suffered defeat in back-to-back home games. Javelle Clarke received treatment after the final whistle, leaving the field on a stretcher.
Gainsborough Trinity 0-1 Ilkeston Town:
It was a tight scrappy game that lacked quality for the majority but was decided my one piece of magic.
Jaime Walker’s near halfway line strike was the moment to remember and was what sent the loud Robin’s supporters home happy.
Gainsborough will need to dust themselves down and go again as they travel to Whitby on Tuesday night, while Ilkeston host Marske at the New Manor Ground.