On a torrentially wet Saturday afternoon, Ilkley Town AFC recorded their first win of the season in spectacular fashion after defeating AFC Darwen 6-0. A hat trick from Tom Smith as well as strikes from Nicc Hewitt, James Hughes and Kevin Gonzalez saw the Baht’atters bag six goals, whilst a solid defensive performance ensured a clean sheet on a perfect afternoon for Simon Armstrong's side, writes Matthew Lambe.
Hewitt came close to opening the scoring with a stunning strike, but Darwen keeper Joshua Liversedge tipped his 30-yard effort over the bar.
In the 12th minute, the Baht’ atters took the lead courtesy of Hughes. Harry Brown latched onto a through ball from Josh Parker, before squaring the ball to Hughes, who tapped home with ease.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Tim Edney prevented an equaliser with a one-handed save from a long range volley.
From a poor backpass, Liversedge mistimed a challenge on Hughes, with the referee subsequently pointing to the spot. Ilkley doubled their advantage as Smith blasted the ball into the bottom corner, despite the keeper guessing the right way.
Determined to maintain a clean sheet, Tim Edney produced a fine double save on the stroke of half time; firstly he dived down low to deny a powerful attempt, before scrambling away a close range effort.
Not resting on their laurels, the hosts pressed forward immediately from the whistle, and were rewarded with a third goal. Alfie Heaton made an overlapping run and beat his defender for pace, then played a cross towards Smith, who hammered home from point blank range.
The Baht’ atters then added another in quick succession, this time from Hewitt. He deceived the keeper by shaping up to finish into the far corner, but instead fired towards the near post.
The goals were coming thick and fast for Simon Armstrong’s side, with Kevin Gonzalez adding his name to the scoresheet. From a Macauley Smith low cross, he tapped home a fifth for his side.
Edney was called into action, as he produced several stops to maintain Ilkley's flawless performance.
In the final few moments, Smith completed his hat-trick with a composed finish. A deflected cross left him in space and he made no mistakes as he slotted beyond the keeper, increasing the score to an impressive 6-0.
As well as being clinical in front of goal, Ilkley's defence was exceptional, and played a key part throughout the game.
This result lifts Town off the foot of the table, and speaks volumes of the team’s character to bounce back from the midweek loss in such spectacular fashion.
Next up, the Baht’ atters face promoted side South Liverpool on Saturday 28th followed by a home game on Bank Holiday Monday vs Nelson.
Access match day photos at: Amazon Photos. And access the post match interview with Simon Armstrong at: Ilkley Town AFC - Ilkley Town 6-0 Darwen Evan Seaman... (facebook.com).