In front of a 200 strong attendance, Ilkley Town AFC prevailed against a competitive South Liverpool FC side to earn a much-needed three points in the festive clash. Goals either side of the break courtesy of Kevin Gonzalez and Luke Barker, and a third clean sheet of the season ensured the Baht’atters came out with a 2-0 victory, writes Matthew Lambe.
The Baht’atters began brightly, with Gonzalez being established as the outlet early on. George Gomersall slid a through ball into his path, and his first-time shot flashed narrowly wide of the post. Moments later, his close range strike forced out a good save from opposition keeper Peter Webster.
In the 15th minute, Sam Dexter’s side took the lead through Kevin Gonzalez. He burst through the defence, before unleashing a powerful attempt that ricocheted off the post and back out to visitors full-back Steven Kelly. After his mistimed first touch, Gonzalez dispossessed him and tapped home from a tight angle for his 16th of the season.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Liverpool nearly levelled via a neat free kick routine. South’s Owen Hough rolled the ball at the last minute, which was latched onto and hurled at goal, whistling just wide.
Following this, the visitors had the ball in the back of the net, but referee Peter Fuller correctly disallowed the goal due to a foul on returning keeper Tim Edney in the build up.
The Baht’atters peppered the opposition goal with chances, firstly Gomersall almost found the target from outside the box, before Gonzalez’s half volley flew just over the bar.
With the last action of the first half, South’s Hough was sin-binned for dissent towards the referee. After he believed a decision had been awarded wrongly, he shouted at the ref and kicked the ball away, leaving Liverpool with 10 men for the remainder of the first half and the opening of the second half.
After the interval, the Baht’atters made the most of the man advantage, and continued to cause trouble for the visitors defence with the clubs passing philosophy. Exchanged passes between Harry Brown and Nathan Hunt allowed Gomersall to be within shooting distance, but his attempt was parried by Webster.
In the 55th minute, a second sin bin made matter worse for Liverpool, meaning they would be down to nine men for a couple of minutes before Hough could be brought back on. Shortly after, McCauley Smith darted into the box before hammering a low shot just wide of the far post.
Despite having fewer players on the field for moments of the game, South created a couple of threatening opportunities. However, keeper Tim Edney was equal to all they created, whilst centre back duo Matt Swift and George Pearson limited the amount of clear-cut chances.
Tom Smith almost added his name to the scoresheet after being a fraction away from bundling into an empty net. Gonzalez squared a cross beyond the keeper, and Smith came tantalisingly close to making contact to earn his 10thgoal of the season.
In the final moments, substitute striker Luke Barker sealed the result when he put pressure on their defender and intercepted his clearance. He reacted the fastest to collect the loose ball and fired home beyond Webster.
This injury-time finish concluded the action, meaning the Baht’atters register an impressive 2-0 victory to distance themselves from the relegation zone.
In the new year, Town are on the road to face unbeaten side Bury AFC on 8th January, before welcoming Daisy Hill FC in the rearranged fixture on 11th January.