Nantwich 2 Ilkeston 2

THE penalty spot played a part in another Nantwich Town game on Saturday afternoon, as star forward Aaron Burns scored one of two first-half penalties in a stalemate with visiting Ilkeston.

Dabbers lost 2-0 to Frickley last Saturday when conceding two well-converted penalties, but unfortunately they could only go halfway to banishing their demons.

Nantwich debutant Nick Haughton, on loan from Fleetwood Town, went down under a clumsy challenge on two minutes, yet the referee saw no infringement.

The slight forward looked lively from kick off and made another effective run on five minutes to nearly put Burns through.

Ilkeston’s James Reid forced a good save out of Nantwich keeper Steve James on seven minutes with a whipped free kick, before Nantwich’s midfield struggled to keep up with a quick Ilkeston passing move on 10 minutes which led to Matt Richards’ opening goal.

Ilkeston defender Joe Maguire tugged back Steve Foster on 15 minutes in the away area, leaving the referee with no choice but to give a penalty.

Nantwich top scorer Burns dispatched it expertly to the keeper’s left.

Burns was threatening the away keeper often, having a shot blocked on the half hour before spurning a chance to take the lead with a second penalty thanks to a fine save from Ross Etheridge.The hosts did eventually take the lead once the visitors failed to clear a flurry of headers that ended with Foster’s leap on 36 minutes.

Maguire made up for gifting Nantwich two spot kicks when he slotted home from inside the Dabbers’ area on 51 minutes, and that was how the score remained.

Haughton showed more fancy footwork on 63 minutes when setting up Foster, who back-heeled for Eastwood but his shot was easily held.

The second half was a feisty affair, with a few pairs of opposing players exchanging ‘handbags’ as the home side’s attacking flair dimmed.

Haughton was a shining light for the Dabbers in the first half but saw less of the ball in the second 45 and after he was substituted with 15 minutes remaining it was up to others in green to get creative.

Ilkeston substitute Rai Simon missed arguably his side’s best chance of the game on 85 minutes as he found the crossbar with his header from a few yards out.

The Ilkeston striker failed to convert a second chance to give his side a late victory with second remaining, much to the relief of the Dabbers and their supporters.

Nantwich: Steve James, Andrew Pearson, Andy White, Andy Keogh, Earl Davis, Mat Bailey (c), Josh Eastwood, Oliver Devenney (Alex Meaney 74), Aaron Burns, Steve Foster (Ben Deegan 86), Nick Haughton (Peter Green 74). Subs: Alex Frost, Sam Wilson.