In their fifth game of the season, Ilkley Town AFC fell to their first defeat at the hands of a strong Holker Old Boys side. After trailing at half time, skipper Harry Brown’s strike restored parity, before the Cumbrian outfit retaliated with two late goals to secure the three points, writes Matthew Lambe.
The visitors started brightly, testing goalkeeper Charlie Bell in the early stages. He rushed off his line to deny an oncoming attacker, before stopping a threatening effort from distance.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Ilkley gained a toe-hold in the game as Tom Smith came close to giving the Baht’atters the lead, but could only glance his header wide.
Growing into the game, Ilkley continued to threaten the Holker defence, and Brown almost found the back of the net with a stinging left foot strike.
In the 24th minute, however, the visitors opened the scoring. Sam Joel latched onto the end of a through ball, and slotted home beyond Bell.
In the following spell, both sides played attractive football but struggled in front of the net, and subsequently a vast proportion of the game was played in the middle third.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Brown levelled the scoring with a long range effort. His attempt took a deflection to wrong-foot the keeper, and flew into the unguarded top corner.
The Baht’atters defence was put under pressure by the Holker forwards, but withheld the danger. A pivotal slide tackle from Matt Swift prevented a tap-in, whilst Nicc Hewitt’s perfectly-timed block denied Jason Walker.
Bell continued to impress, as a strong parry kept out a threatening corner.
With Ilkley resisting that period of Holker pressure, full-back Lewis Seyffert played a through ball into substitute Shaban Mehmeti, who drove down the wing before seeing his low driven cross cleared at the near post by the Holker centre-back.
The visitors pressure ultimately paid dividends however as, with only five minutes left, Jamie Hodgson restored his side’s lead. A cross from their full-back entered the six yard box, and at the near post Hodgson stuck out his foot to guide the ball past Bell.
To make matters worse, Holker were awarded a spot kick two minutes later; Walker dispatched his penalty into the roof of the net to extend the lead.
In the final moments, Mehmeti beat two defenders to reach the box, but dragged his shot agonisingly wide. Seconds later, the referee signalled for full time.
This result sees Holker take the three points back to Cumbria, whilst the Baht’atters remain on ten points with five games played.
Next up, Town’s efforts turn to the FA Vase, as they head north east up to Birtley Town on 27th August, before welcoming Nelson to the MPM Stadium the following Monday.