Baht’atters Impress in Cup Tie vs Higher League Halifax

In the West Riding County Cup, Ilkley Town AFC gave Halifax Town FC a run for their money in front of a packed crowd at the MPM Stadium. Halifax bagged three in the first half, but the Baht’atters showed their worth in the final 45 minutes, creating numerous chances before Kevin Gonzalez slotted home five minutes from time, writes Matthew Lambe.

 Initially, the Shaymen employed a high-press strategy to force the hosts deeper, but the centre back partnership of Matt Swift and George Pearson - along with James Nightingale’s crucial blocks - held strong.

 In the 10th minute, Halifax broke the deadlock thanks to a header from captain Tom Bradbury. From a swinging corner, he rose highest to head into the roof of the net beyond Callum Gladding.

 Following this was a fine team move from the Baht’atters, with Tom Fleming and George Gomersall exchanging passes before Tom Smith’s effort was deflected wide.

 At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Gladding produced a good save to push a low effort wide.

 A half volley from the edge of the box saw the Shaymen double their advantage. After a cross was headed into the path of Sam Essien, his first-time strike found the bottom corner.

 A few minutes later, the visitors won a penalty after their winger was deemed to be tripped inside the box. Jamie Allen stepped up and blasted the penalty into the top left corner, giving Halifax a healthy lead going into the interval.

 Ilkley sprinted out of the blocks in the second half, and would’ve pulled a goal back had Harry Brown’s 20-yard strike not whistled narrowly wide of the post.

 The Baht’atters executed another stunning passing play, this time Gonzalez and Gomersall linking up to almost find the net. Gonzalez outmuscled Bradbury on the byline, before weaving through three defenders and squaring to Gomersall. He cut back inside, and strike smashed the near post.

 Only moments later, Simon Armstrong’s side came tantalisingly close again, and were unlucky to have not pegged two goals back this half. Captain Brown unleashed a driven attempt from outside the box, and his arrowing strike bounced off the post and back into open play.

 In the 85th minute, Ilkley’s efforts were rewarded, culminating with Gonzalez bagging a deserved goal for the Baht’atters with a composed finish. After Gomersall threaded a through ball into his path, he calmly slotted through keeper Tom Scott’s legs.

 This was the last action, concluding an entertaining spectacle that saw Ilkley impress in the second half, keeping a clean sheet and scoring against much higher opposition.

 Next up, Town face fellow West Yorkshire outfit Steeton AFC in the league on Tuesday 19th October, before travelling to Daisy Hill on the 30th.