Wednesday 15 March
Narrow defeats have been a regular feature of this frustrating Ilkeston season and another was the outcome here.
Two Stafford goals in six first half minutes were enough to do the damage, both having a degree of fortune about them and the scorer of the second being offside when he received the ball, but you make your own luck and Ilkeston overall didn't quite do enough to quite justify taking anything from the match.
It was a game that nearly didn't happen. Floodlight failure 40 minutes before kick-off threatened to see it postponed, but the problem was solved just in time for the encounter to start some 49 minutes behind schedule.
It took ten minutes for the first effort of note, Luis Rose volleying over the top after turning a defender just outside the penalty area.
The Robins were having the better of things early on but it was then Stafford who took the lead on 14 minutes.
Izak Reid managed to win the ball a little fortunately from Dante Leverock on the byline, although the Bermudan should really have cleared his lines, Reid moving forward a couple of yards before squaring the ball behind keeper Dale Eve to where Kyle Perry was able to slam home from a yard out.
Six minutes later it was 2-0. The Robins fell asleep as Stafford took a quick free-kick which found Reid in the penalty area and after Eve blocked his first effort he was able to slide the ball home at the second attempt.
An audacious chip from Kris Taylor nearly made it three on the half-hour mark, Eve doing well to tip his effort over the top.
Danny Gordon let fly from distance but was high and wide as Ilkeston tried to force a way back into the game, but in truth the hosts were struggling to make in roads despite the positive start they'd had to the game.
The second-half took a while to get going as Stafford seemed content with their lead, although several attacks of theirs broke down due to poor play in the final third.
Anthony Dwyer had a crack from distance for Ilkeston on 59 minutes which keeper Adam Whitehouse gathered low down, but it would be another long range strike that would get the Robins back in the game five minutes later.
Rose has been a rare bright spark in the Robins team all season and here he cut inside from the right and smashed a left-footed effort from 30 yards which left Whitehouse with no chance as it found the top corner.
The Robins kept battling, Tevahn Tyrell's shot lacking conviction when the ball fell to him eight yards out and the keeper saving low down.
Danny Gordon was next to threaten, his shot with four minutes left flying wide of Whitehouse's goal, Perry then looping a header over the top at the other end.
Ilkeston: 1 Dale Eve, 2 Reece Horne, 3 Charlie Scanlon, 4 Dante Leverock, 5 Matt Baker (c), 6 Jaylon Bather (Tom Gamblen 90), 7 Luis Rose, 8 Danny Gordon, 9 Tevahn Tyrell (Ben Morris 81), 10 Anthony Dwyer (Dexter Atkinson 81), 11 Ryan Head
Subs not used: Connor Walters, Jamie Hannis
Stafford: 1 Adam Whitehouse, 2 Sam Griffiths, 3 Darren Thornton (Tyler Lyttle 74), 4 Kieran Morris, 5 Mat Bailey (c), 6 Kris Taylor, 7 Jack Sherratt (Jake Heath 85), 8 Levi Reid (Mitchell Tolley 88), 9 Kyle Perry, 10 Izak Reid, 11 Richard Batchelor
Subs not used: Aaron Opoku, Zeph Thomas
Star Robin: Luis Rose