Covid-hit Ilkley Battle Hard Against Ashton

On a torrentially wet Saturday afternoon, an Ilkley Town AFC side thinned out by COVID related absences fell 3-2 to a solid Ashton Town side. Despite early goals from James Hughes and Kevin Gonzalez, the hosts overturned the deficit thanks to a convincing second half performance, writes Matthew Lambe.

 The Baht’atters got off to a dream start, with Hughes netting the opener just seven minutes in. Having received a back-pass from a throw-in, the Ashton keeper failed to control the ball; Hughes seized the opportunity, using his strength to dispossess the keeper before tapping the ball into the empty net from a couple of yards out.

 A flurry of chances followed, with both teams coming close to finding the net. Macauley Smith saw his attempt parried wide, whilst at the other end Ashton were denied by two goal line clearances and a stop from Callum Gladding.

 Shortly afterwards, the hosts bagged an equaliser through a set-piece move. A looping cross reached Kian Bell at the far post, who volleyed low beyond Gladding.

 Ilkley restored their advantage only a couple of minutes later, courtesy of Gonzalez. After a receiving a through ball from James Hudson, Gonzalez showed great skill to round the keeper, before slotting home from a tight angle.

 The opening of the second half nearly saw a wonder goal from Josh Parker. He unleashed a powerful strike from long range, and the effort soared narrowly over the bar.

 Soon after, Ashton striker Jamie White slid in for a challenge on goalkeeper Gladding, sparking heated words between the two sides.

 Ashton created a string of chances after this, but vital blocks from the Baht’atters strong defence kept them at bay for the moment.

 For the second time in the game, Ashton drew level. Winger Rustam Stepans skipped past the defence before blasting an effort into the bottom corner.

 Only four minutes later, the hosts overturned the deficit and took the lead for the first time. Following a pass across the box, substitute Leon Wright scored with a first-time strike.

 In the final few moments, Gonzalez would’ve scored an all important equaliser had he not been denied by a fine save from Ashton’s keeper.

 This result is a tough one to take for the Baht’atters who, having led for a large proportion of the game, come away with no points.

 Knowing they were at a disadvantage with a large number of Covid related absences, Ilkley acquitted themselves well to produce an impressive first half display. However, in the second half those absences began to show as Ashton edged into the game.

 Next up, Ilkley welcome Holker Old Boys to the MPM Stadium on Saturday 14th, before travelling to Chadderton for another Tuesday night fixture.