SKELMERSDALE United were denied the point that their efforts deserved on a wet day in Derbyshire.
Handicapped by having only ten men for an hour it was a defensive error that cost them in the end as the hosts grabbed the winner in the 90th minute.
The opening 20 minutes saw two teams cancelling each other out as they got to grips with what was a firm but slippery surface, and one that would get worse as rain fell throughout the game.
The 28th and 30th minutes of the game were crucial to the outcome.
In the 28th minute Ilkeston’s Marcel Barrington pounced on a loose ball and played it to James Reid wide on the left, he exchanged passes with Matt Richards and sent the ball low across Skelmersdale goalkeeper Zac Hibbert into the far corner.
Two minutes later a bad clearance saw the ball drop to Ilkeston midfielder Kane Richards.
United defender Rob McIntosh moved in to tackle but Richards flicked the ball around his move, McIntosh connected with the midfielder who went down “rolling in agony”, referee David Plowright showing a red card to McIntosh.
If a goal down wasn’t bad enough, being a goal down with only ten men made it doubly difficult for Skelmersdale.
In fairness they responded really well and the latter period of the half saw Skelmersdale on top and Ilkeston forced back onto the defensive.
In the 45th minute, the Skelmersdale pressure reaped reward.
Dean Astbury cutting across the penalty area from the right, evading two challenges before firing a powerful effort past home goalkeeper Ross Etheridge into the net.
The second-half was even in the most part. Play switched end to end, with the respective defences having control of affairs.
Skelmersdale’s Alan Burton cleared some danger by heading over his own crossbar, then down the other end a magnificent last ditch sliding tackle by Ilkeston’s Ellis Storey prevented Ashley Dunn from surely giving Skelmersdale the lead, just as Dunn lifted his foot to strike.
Another telling moment arrived in the 58th minute when after a tough challenge Skelmersdale midfielder Neil Prince was left holding his back and he had to leave the field.
Prince has been highly influential in recent weeks for Skelmersdale and until the injury Saturday was no different, so it was a palpable loss to Skelmersdale.
Ilkeston gradually got more of the possession, but Skelmersdale were holding on well and looked very dangerous on the counterattack.
It was in one of those that Chris Simm appeared to be fouled but no penalty was given in the 74th minute. To make matters worse Ilkeston broke from the incident and only two great saves by Hibbert kept out efforts by Tyrell Waite and Kane Richards.
Moments after the added time was announced Skelmersdale were arguably victims for their own determination to play football on the now muddy pitch.
The ball should have been thumped away down the left-wing, but instead an interchange of passes was intercepted by Gary Ricketts, the big striker sent the ball to the far post, where Waite slid to score from around a yard.
It was a cruel ending to the game from a Skelmersdale perspective.
They had done enough to take at least a point home with them especially with only ten men as it would been easy for them to have just parked the bus across their goal after they equalised.
l ILKESTON: Etheridge, Alexander, Wilson R., Wilson L., Maguire, Storey, Richards K., Richards M. (Chettle, 69), Barrington (Ricketts, 69), Waite, Reid Subs (not used) Baker, Adams, Hooton
l SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Hibbert, Field, Holden, Hardwick, McIntosh, Dunn, Morning (Simm, 67), Burton, Astbury, Prince (Miller, 58), Ince Subs (not used) Laird, Greene, O’Reilly
l Referee David Plowright (Mansfield)
l Attendance: 399