In front of a 125-strong crowd at the MPM Stadium, Ilkley Town AFC claimed their first goalless draw of the season against a well-disciplined Atherton Laburnum Rovers side. Both sides had numerous chances to break the deadlock, but in the end a mixture of solid defending and off-target shooting ensured the points were shared, writes Matthew Lambe.
Atherton showed their prowess from set-pieces, almost converting two corners in the opening 15 minutes. Alfie Heaton volleyed the first off the line at the far post, whilst a moment of madness occurred when a goalmouth scramble left the Baht’atters in a perilous position, but keeper Callum Gladding smothered the ball on the line.
The Baht’atters had multiple chances of their own to find an opener, including Kevin Gonzalez hammering an effort into the near post from a tight angle, and keeper Josep Genestar rushed out to narrow the angle to deny George Gomersall’s close range strike.
Simon Armstrong’s side came closest to finding an opening on the half hour mark, when Gomersall’s curled effort struck the post. After bursting down the wing, he cut inside to beat the defender before unleashing a strike that ricocheted off the far post and back into open play.
Leading up to the break the visitors enjoyed a couple of opportunities, but the Ilkley centre backs Matt Swift and George Pearson held strong to ensure the sides went into the interval level.
Early in the second half, the Baht’atters had three quick-fire attempts to take the lead, but some brave keeping from Genestar maintained his clean sheet. He saved Gomersall’s initial effort then stopped Gonzalez’s, before Harry Brown’s powerful half-volley was blocked.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Atherton’s Luke Nicholls wriggled into the box, but Gladding denied his goalbound strike with a strong hand. Following this, their midfielder produced a speculative attempt from distance, which almost looped into the far corner.
The Baht’atters registered a couple more chances; Tom Smith volleyed across goal to set up a tap in, but his pass was missed by defenders and attackers alike, whilst Heaton won possession before crossing to captain Brown, only for Genestar to catch his low effort in the closing stages.
A couple of minutes later, referee Joshua Gordon blew for full time, concluding a game which the Baht’atters can be pleased with their strong defensive performance.
Next up, Town travel to high-flying West Yorkshire outfit Golcar United on the 13th, before facing Atherton in the return clash on the 20th November.