In an 8-goal thriller, Ilkley Town AFC narrowly edged a competitive Headingley side with goals from Darren Munday, Joe Chilaka, Tom Smith and a brace from George Gomersall, writes Matthew Lambe.
The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better start, breaking the deadlock after only five minutes. Their striker broke the offside trap, and beat Adam Montague Millar with a deft finish.
Ilkley looked to retaliate, and found their breakthrough from a set-piece. Garside floated a corner into the six-yard box, and centre-back Munday rose above everyone before heading powerfully into the roof of the net.
The hosts ended the opening half with momentum, calling the Headingley keeper into action on multiple occasions. Matt Whitehead had a long range effort well parried away, whilst captain Richard Bull saw his effort ricochet off the post and into the keeper’s hands.
Not looking to waste any time, the Baht’atters continued to press in the second half, and from kickoff won a free kick in a promising position. Gomersall’s resulting strike came inches away from giving Ilkley the advantage, but it skimmed off the post.
In the 55th minute, the visitors restored their lead, thanks to their no 9, who cut inside before accurately curling his shot into the far corner.
Shortly afterwards, Ilkley equalised for the second time. Gomersall struck an effort from distance, but thanks to a deflection the keeper was unable to smother the ball, and Smith slotted home the rebound.
Almost instantly after conceding, Headingley responded with a rebound goal of their own. Montague Millar pulled off a stunning outstretched save to tip the initial free-kick onto the crossbar, but the visitors’ no 14 pounced onto the rebound to make the score 2-3 with half an hour left of play.
Simon Armstrong’s side had a string of opportunities following this; most noticeably a goalmouth scramble, a looped effort from James Nightingale, and a glancing header from Smith.
Eventually Ilkley’s sustained pressure paid dividends, resulting in an exquisite team goal. Gomersall floated a long ball towards Alfie Heaton, whose first-time low cross found Chilaka. The striker made no mistake as he blasted his finish into the top right corner, tying up the game in the 80th minute.
The following few minutes saw chances galore, with Chilaka volleying narrowly wide, Smith smashing against the post; and at the other end Nicc Hewitt showed good defensive skill to prevent Headingley from counter-attacking, as well as Montague Millar making another fine save.
It needed a moment of class to produce a winning goal, and in the final few minutes Gomersall provided just that. From long range, he spun away from his opponent before unleashing an audacious chip over the keeper, landing just under the crossbar.
Still wanting more, Gomersall won a set-piece in a dangerous position. His resulting strike was inch-perfect, hitting the inside of the post before rippling the back of the net.
Gomersall’s stunning brace completed a flourishing comeback for the Baht’atters, and provided an entertaining spectacle between two attack-minded teams.
Ilkley are in action once again on Tuesday evening away at Barnoldswick, before visiting Headingley in what promises to be an entertaining return of league football.