On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, Ilkley Town AFC were soundly beaten by an impressive Garstang side 6-2. Despite Tom Smith scoring a second half brace, three goals in quick succession on the stroke of half time ensured victory for the hosts, writes Matthew Lambe.
Straight from the whistle, Garstang employed a high-press strategy to put the Baht’atters under pressure. A weak backpass almost allowed an opener for Squires, whilst a pivotal sliding challenge from James Nightingale prevented a tap-in.
Looking to retaliate, Ilkley mounted an offence and recorded several opportunities. Initially Alfie Heaton fired over from a tight angle, before a low shot from Tom Fleming was collected by keeper Donlon following a Smith dummy.
On the half hour mark, Garstang took the lead. After wriggling into the box, Squires fired an effort into far corner, bouncing off the post and in.
In the space of 10 minutes, the hosts added a second courtesy of captain Noblet. He exchanged passes before slotting into the bottom corner, again ricocheting off the post.
Garstang bagged another couple of goals before half time; Noblet headed powerfully into the roof of the net, whilst Murphy curled into the far corner from the edge of the box.
The Baht’atters showed more spirit in the second half, with Harry Brown forcing a diving save from the keeper with a powerful long range strike.
Garstang netted a fifth time shortly after the interval to dash any hopes of a comeback. A long ball allowed striker Zach Clarke space, and he twisted around the defence before rounding Callum Gladding to tap into an empty net.
Ilkley’s second half efforts were rewarded with a consolation goal from Smith. He burst forward before his strike from distance wrong-footed the keeper.
Nicc Hewitt produced a great last-man tackle to deny their forward from converting a one-on-one, whilst Gladding displayed a one-handed save to prevent a header destined for the top corner.
The hosts proved too much though, as they increased the scoreline, with Clarke receiving a through ball before poking home.
In the 70th minute, Smith bagged his brace following a nicely-worked team move. Nightingale darted forward before passing to Macauley Smith, who played a through ball into Tom Smith. He turned and whistled an effort towards the top corner, spinning off the post on its way in.
For the final ten minutes, the Baht’atters were forced down to 10 men, as defender Josh Parker was substituted off with a concussion.
Next up, the Baht’atters host Penrith on Saturday 11th September in what will be our first ever fixture in the FA Vase.