Gonzalez Hat-Trick Earns Vital Win

On a cold afternoon at the MPM Stadium, a Kevin Gonzalez hat-trick ensured Ilkley Town AFC prevailed 3-1 over promotion-chasing Pilkington FC to extend their unbeaten streak to five. In a game with three disallowed goals, strikes from Gonzalez either side of half time combined with a disciplined defensive performance ensured the Baht’atters distance themselves from the drop, writes Matthew Lambe.

 

Sam Dexter’s side couldn’t have asked for a better start, taking the lead within the opening 10 minutes. George Gomersall scooped a cross in towards Gonzalez, who found the far corner with a delicate header. 

 

The Baht’atters almost bagged a second in quick succession, but were denied by a questionable decision. George Gomersall unleashed a stunning volley that bounced off the crossbar and out, but  the officials deemed the ball hadn’t fully crossed the line.

 

The visitors had a golden opportunity to equalise moments later, but managed to squander a clear-cut chance. After Tim Edney misjudged a long ball, Josh Parker blocked the initial effort, before the resulting strike from point blank range was volleyed out of the ground.

 

On the stroke of half time, the Ilkley faithful feared the worst as Edney was down injured after being clattered as he rushed out, but mercifully he was able to continue.

 

The Baht’atters played with more confidence in the second half, and this was shown in the volume of chances being created. Straight from kickoff, Gonzalez almost added a second after Gomersall brought down a cross-field pass from Parker, but couldn’t quite connect.

 

With the next action, Gonzalez made no mistakes as he doubled his side’s advantage, in doing so registering his 23rdof the season. His finish was the culmination of a fine team move that began with Nicc Hewitt teeing up Gomersall; his effort was stopped on the line, but the talismanic striker was on hand to smash home the rebound.

 

Only four minutes later, Gonzalez had bagged his third hat trick of the campaign with a pinpoint chip. He outpaced their centre-backs, before producing a deft lob over the stranded keeper.

 

Determined to record his third consecutive clean sheet, Edney parried away a couple of stinging shots from Callum Laird and Phil Marsh. In addition, Matt Swift commanded the defence, heading away every cross that came his way.

 

Following this, there was a string of disallowed goals – three to be precise. Their offside attacker beat Edney with a neat finish, whilst Tom Smith was said to have interfered with play, and the linesman denied Gonzalez of his fourth.

 

Approaching injury time, Pilkington earned a consolation goal. Substitute Marcus Perry burst through the Town defence, before clipping an impressive finish into the top corner.

 

The visitors’ late goal was not enough to prevent the Baht’atters from taking home the three points; Smith forcing a low save from keeper Ben Jones was the last action of the game.

 

This result extends Ilkley’s gap from the relegation zone to three points, and should give them the utmost confidence heading into the final stretch of the season.

 

Next up, Town have back-to-back away games, first travelling to AFC Darwen on the 22nd March, before making the long trip up to Barrow to face high-fliers Holker Old Boys, on 26th March.