Frickley Athletic fell to defeat in controversial circumstances at Ilkeston FC on Saturday as Arron Webster’s 79th-minute penalty proved the difference.
The Blues were aggrieved to see Joe Wilcox sent off after 74 minutes before the visitors conceded the softest of penalties five minutes later which Webster duly converted.
The decisions infuriated the Frickley players and management, with cautions for Matty Bloor and Luke Jeffs, as well as the dismissal of Jon Hood from the technical area, coming as a result.
Boss Karl Rose welcomed defender Sam Denton from Scarborough Athletic and he went straight into the starting eleven, while Jake Picton shook off a hamstring injury to start. But Ollie Fearon, Jay McFadzean and Gavin Allott were all absent through injury.
The driving rain did not help either side but the hosts made the brighter start and Denton had some early work to do in making a timely interception to prevent Kane Richards breaking clear in the box. Richards threatened again soon after but Blues goalkeeper Tom Woodhead pushed his effort away.
Frickley’s first threat came from a 12th-minute corner which saw Luke Hinsley have a shot deflected over the bar with the resulting corner finding Denton, who headed wide.
Chances continued to come at both ends but the hosts missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock just after the hour mark.
Wilcox brought down Richards inside the box and the referee did not hesitate in pointing to the spot. Webster stepped up but Woodhead did brilliantly to save the spot-kick and keep the scores level.
The Blues looked a more dangerous proposition in the second half, something helped by Jake Picton pushing further forward, and five minutes after the restart Luke Jeffs saw a 20-yard shot deflected just wide before Hinsley stole the ball and saw a low shot blocked by Lloyd Allinson.
The visitors got even closer to opening the scoring after the hour mark when Denton and Jeffs saw efforts cleared off the line in quick succession.
But the game changed on a controversial decision with 16 minutes left when Wilcox and James Reid challenged for the ball and the referee showed Wilcox the red card for an alleged elbow on his opponent.
Things got worse when Joe Maguire went down in the box and the referee awarded the hosts their second penalty of the afternoon, something which infuriated Frickley and saw Hood sent to the stands for his protests.
Frickley still had chances to pull themselves level deep into added time but Hinsley headed a Joe Fox free-kick agonisingly wide of the post.
Ilkeston FC: Allinson, Baker, Webster, Gordon, Maguire, Storey, Reid, Chettle (Adams 68), Ricketts, Richards (Hooton 88), Richards (Stokes 21). Unused subs: Wright, Williams.
Frickley: Woodhead, Wilcox, Gardner, Picton, Denton, Jeffs, Fox, Bloor, Hinsley, Dyer-Stewart (Oniama 45), Ghaichem (Villermann 75). Unused subs: Stratford, Rose, Hood.
Referee: Anthony Moore.