COMPOSURE was the buzzword as Worcester City convincingly saw off big-hitters Ilkeston in a gripping blood-and-thunder clash.

City dealt better with the intensity of a heated battle as goals from James Baldwin and Mat Birley were capped off by Jordan Harrison’s audacious curler from an impossible angle.

Ilkeston will point to card-happy referee David Hinton harshly dismissing Matt Baker eight minutes into the second half with the score at 1-0 but in truth, the home side’s mix of style and substance always looked likely to prevail.

City started with the same XI that had kicked off a 2-1 win over Long Eaton United in the FA Vase seven days previously and were on the front foot from the off.

Nerves were settled by the opener 10 minutes in when Baldwin was on hand to nudge in after keeper Liam Mitchell and his colleagues had made a hash of Luke English’s long throw.

Tackles flew in with the visitors keen to bend Hinton’s ear at every opportunity before City went close to doubling their lead.

A series of inswinging corners had caused problems for Mitchell and another ended with George Forsyth volleying narrowly wide a loose ball in a packed box.

Worcester remained on the front foot for the most part but Town had their moments and got thwarted by keeper Dan Jezeph in first-half stoppage time when Kyle Dixon’s point-blank effort was smothered and pushed wide following a one-two with Reco Fyfe.

Livewire Baldwin had his near-post shot deflected wide by the covering Baker early in the second half, moments before the duo came together just past the halfway line.

Baldwin was in full flight with Baker’s late arrival worthy of a booking rather than the straight red card he received.

English headed over the free-kick Jamie Smith lofted in on the back of that incident with Tom Marshall somehow getting a deft touch to steer to safety Tyler Weir’s bouncing goal-bound effort minutes later.

Captain Jordan Stoddart pulled up 63 minutes in with assistant manager Ashley Vincent opting to substitute the centre-half as a precaution.

Nick Turton’s inclusion resulted in a reshuffle that coincided with a spell of Ilkeston pressure but City survived and soon grabbed a decisive second.

Joel Caines played out from in front of his own box for Baldwin to scamper away down the left and cut back for Harrison to have a shot charged down.

But with Ilkeston scrambling, the ricochet dropped for the timely arrival of Birley who slammed in unerringly with 20 minutes to go.

Jamie Walker was a whisker away from finding the bottom far corner after a momentary lapse before the verdict was well and truly settled by Harrison.

The frontrunner was almost level with the goal line just as Weir was obstructed in the box and with all attention turning to that incident, Harrison arced over and around Mitchell to find the top far corner.

Turton rolled to Birley to fire against the underside of the bar from six yards in added time and Ilkeston’s fortunes were summed up at the death when top scorer Elliott Reeves got down the left of the box only to be denied by Jezeph at the near post.

City: Jezeph, English, J Smith (Osbourne, 71), Forsyth, Stoddart (Turton, 63), Caines, Weir, Withington, Harrison, Birley, Baldwin (Bates, 79). Unused subs: Lockett, Gilder (g/k).

Ilkeston: Mitchell, J Wheatley (Fyfe, 31), Bennett, Shaw, Baker, Dixon, White, T Marshall, Reeves, A Marshall (Piliero, 58), Walker (Hopkinson, 84). Unused subs: Whitehurst, R Wheatley.

Attendance: 496.