With the MPM Stadium shrouded in fog, Ilkley Town AFC ensured opponents Bacup Borough were made to work for their 1-1 draw. After talismanic striker Kevin Gonzalez broke the deadlock with a powerful finish, the visitors grabbed an equaliser with a looping header, writes Matthew Lambe.
Sam Dexter’s side began brightly, enjoying the majority of the possession, and were rewarded for their efforts with an early goal courtesy of Kevin Gonzalez. He burst down the left wing before hammering his strike across goal beyond the reach of keeper Harry Turner.
Keen to capitalise on their momentum, the Baht’atters pressed forward in search of a second, and came close when a cross was slid into the path of Gonzalez. However, a deflection from a Bacup centre back caused the ball to swerve out of reach.
Following this was a confusing stoppage, as seemingly a drop ball was given due to an injury with both teams unsure whether to continue play.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, a through ball was threaded into striker Anthony Hall, but his close range finish whistled wide of the near post.
In the second half, Gonzalez nearly doubled his side’s advantage with a carbon copy of his first, as his thunderous strike flew narrowly over the bar.
Tom Smith was forced to be substituted after receiving a concussion, and in his place stepped Luke Barker; his first action almost resulted in a goal, after colliding with Turner from a loose ball.
In the 70th minute, Borough levelled the scoring. A free kick was floated into the box, where it was met by their striker who guided his header into the roof of the net, teeing up an intense finale.
The visitors had a flurry of chances in the following few minutes, but Baht’atters keeper Michael Clifford was equal to their efforts, making commanding catches from crosses on numerous occasions.
Entering injury time, Ilkley won a corner, and captain Harry Brown’s low delivery nearly sneaked through at the near post. From the resulting corner, George Pearson rose highest to head towards goal, but Turner produced a vital save with his legs off the line.
This action concluded the game, and the Baht’atters can take positives with the solid defensive performance, whilst earning a draw against a strong side challenging for promotion. However, the hosts may rue some of their missed opportunities.
Next up, Town host South Liverpool in a Christmas clash on the 28th December, before travelling to high-flying Bury AFC on January 8th.