Ilkley Town AFC exited the Macron Cup in the 1st Round after suffering a narrow defeat to Bacup Borough. A penalty scored by Toby Wright was all that separated the sides at the interval, before the Baht’atters dominated the second half but couldn’t find an equaliser – despite a controversial offside goal in the final stages, writes Matthew Lambe.
Sam Dexter’s side almost opened the scoring within the first five minutes, when Shaban Mehmeti’s goalbound effort was deflected wide following neat link-up play with Nicc Hewitt. Moments later, Nathan Hunt’s powerful strike flashed just wide.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Jack Lane, standing on the goal line, denied Borough a goal after he cleared the ball away. An excellent challenge from George Pearson intercepted an otherwise threatening attack.
Around the half hour mark, the visitors took the lead. Their winger was brought down on the edge of the box and Wright dispatched the penalty into the bottom corner, giving the Lancastrian outfit a slender lead at half-time.
Keen to add a second, Bacup began the second half brightly and were within inches of extending their advantage, but were denied by the woodwork.
Then, the Baht’atters were agonisingly close to restoring parity, after Mehmeti’s arrowing free kick rose above the wall and skimmed the top of the crossbar.
A galvanised Ilkley piled on the pressure, but Borough’s defence was defiant against everything that came their way. Goalkeeper Mason Walker parried a volley from Hunt, before a goalmouth scramble culminated with Mehmeti shooting wide.
Bacup looked to threaten from a counter-attack, and would’ve been through on goal had it not been for Josh Parker’s well-timed tackle.
With five minutes left on the clock, Kevin Gonzalez appeared to bag a well-deserved equaliser, but the linesman saw an offside during the build-up. Tom Fleming beat two defenders before finding Gonzalez with a delicate pass, and he beat the keeper via a deflection from Gareth Wager, but the linesman’s decision stood.
This action concluded the second half, meaning the visitors progress to the 2nd Round of the Macron Cup whilst the Baht’atters’ efforts now return to the league.
Looking to the future, in a busy week Town welcome Atherton LR from across the Pennines to the MPM Stadium on Saturday 22nd October, before hosting Harrogate Railway Athletic in the evening in the West Riding County Cup on Tuesday 25th October.
(Photo Credit: Paul O’Brien)