Baht’atters Pipped By Nelson

On a ferociously windy Saturday afternoon, Ilkley Town AFC lost by a fine margin to Nelson FC 3-2, meaning the Baht’atters have lost 10 games by only one goal this season. Nelson steamed ahead in the first half with the wind benefitting them, although a strong second half performance saw Ilkley nearly claw back the deficit, writes Matthew Lambe.

 Wanting to push for the playoffs, Nelson went on the offensive immediately and took the lead in the 11th minute. Tim Edney produced a one-handed save to deny Jack Holt, but Jack Foster pounced on the loose ball and slammed the rebound into the roof of the net.

 The Admirals would’ve extended their lead had it not been for the valiant Edney, who produced a string of saves to limit Nelson’s lead to one; he dived low to prevent being rounded by Holt, before pulling off a reaction save from point blank range from the resulting corner.

 The wind wasn’t doing the Baht’atters any favours, and allowed the merest of passes to travel a great distance.

 In the 28th minute, the hosts doubled their advantage; winger Dylan Meredith cut inside before pinpointing a strike into the near post, leaving the Baht’atters with a mountain to climb in the second half.

 Going two behind seemed to ignite a spark within Sam Dexter’s side, as they began to look threatening and cause problems for Nelson’s defence. Nathan Hunt was unlucky to not win a penalty after a fearsome challenge swept him off his feet, and James Hudson forced a fine save from keeper Jack Little as Ilkley looked to gain momentum.

 Only moments later, Tom Smith netted to bring the Baht’atters within one. Following a well-weighted through ball from Macauley Smith, Tom Smith dribbled forward and kept his composure to slot beyond Little to give his side a lifeline.

 Agonisingly, the Admirals restored their two-goal cushion with virtually the last kick of the first half. Meredith received a wind-assisted through ball before squaring to Foster, who tapped home from within the six-yard box.

 The Baht’atters were now attacking in the opposite direction, meaning the wind would finally be beneficial. Smith took full advantage as he curled an effort narrowly wide from a tight angle.

 At the other end of the ground, perfectly-executed sliding tackles from Nicc Hewitt and Matt Swift ensured the deficit remained only two, whilst a comfortable save from Edney prevented another.

 In the 71st minute, the Baht’atters gave further hope to their comeback from a set-piece.  Smith’s delivery weaved into the box and a goalmouth scramble ensued, with Swift gaining the decisive touch to hammer home.

 For the remaining 20 minutes, Town created countless opportunities but the hosts defence stayed stubborn. Meanwhile, tensions became heated on the sidelines as the Nelson officials were keen to let the referee know their feelings.

 Smith was deemed offside by the linesman in Ilkley’s final offence, concluding a tense encounter in such an anticlimactic fashion. Ilkley had essentially penned Nelson into their own box for the final 20 minutes, yet left empty handed.

 Next up, Town face unbeaten side Bury AFC at the Neuven Stadium on Tuesday 1st February, before welcoming Campion AFC to the MPM on the following Saturday.