Evostik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Ilkeston FC 2 North Ferriby United 2
A below par performance still saw Ferriby keep their five point lead at the top of the table on a day when none of the top five won.
It could be easy to criticise today's performance but this was the team's fourth game in eight days so it is no surprise that the players did not display their usual pace.
Ferriby opened brightly and could have scored twice in the opening eight minutes. Anthony Wilson was closed out by two defenders as he raced in on goal then Ryan Kendall lost the ball under pressure in the penalty area.
The first goal came in the ninth minute. Wilson's blocked shot rebounded to Danny Clarke who shot home from eight yards.
Ilkeston countered through James Reid who sent a cross shot past Adam Nicklin's far post.
Ferriby continued to press and Russ Fry was unlucky to see a 20 yard volley dip just over the bar. Clarke saw a goal-bound shot deflected for a corner. Wilson then headed a Fry corner wide and Ryan Kendall and Wilson both had shots charged down as they tried to find space for a better opportunity.
Ilkeston began to come more into the game in the final 5 minutes of the half. Aaron Hooton saw Nicklin turn his 12-yard drive over the bar. Hooton was credited with Ilkeston's equaliser after 35 minutes when the ball was turned-in at the near post by a Ferriby defender.
Hooton then fired wide before Kieran O'Connell fired a great opportunity wide after being played in by Kane Richards who caused problems for Ferriby throughout the game.
The second-half was similar to the first in many respects. Both sides had their spells of pressure but struggled to get shots on target.
Liam King twice went close for Ferriby before Laurie Wilkinson drew a superd save from Nicklin with a 30-yard pile-driver. Ricketts then had a stooping header blocked as Ilkeston pressed for the second goal.
The home side took the lead after63 minutes. Substitute Antwan Russell was allowed space to run down the left-wing before cutting-in and f firing a low drive from18-yards past Nicklin.
Even when their football may be below par, Ferriby still have an amazing desire to win and they display great spirit and character.
Ilkeston created little serious threat for the rest of the game as Ferriby began to exert some con cert ed pressure.Home keeper Chris Martin did well to turn Gary Bradshaw's fee-kick over the bar.
Ferriby won a penalty after75 minute when King was bundled over by Joe Maguire. Kendall's low kick to Martin's right was beaten out but the striker reacted quickly to fire the rebound home.
Martinn saved another Bradshaw free-kick before Kendall was thwarted twice in one-on-ones with Martin.
A draw was probably a fair result on the day. Ferriby will be happy that they are in exactly the same position they were in before the afternoon's games.
Ferriby manager Billy Heath commented, "It wasn't a good performance today. A mixture of nerves and tiredness probably played their part. However, we are still five points ahead, just as we were at the start of the afternoon. It has been a successful week."
NFU: Adam Nicklin, Paul Robson, Nathan Peat, Liam King, Gregg Anderson, Paul Foot, Danny Clarke, , Russell Fry, Anthony Wilson (Gary Bradshaw 60), Ryan Kendall, Ryan Williams (Steve Ridley 45). Non-playing subs: Chris Bolder, Ryan Williams, Antoni Pecora
Ilkeston FC: Chris Martin, Dan Partridge (James Cullingworth 76), Ryan Wilson, Laurie Wilson, Joe Maguire, Ellis Storey, James Reid, Jack Watts, Aaron Hooto (Gary Ricketts 45), Kieran O'Connell (Antwan Russell 61), Kane Richards. Non-playing subs:, Russell Peel, Danny Gordon