Ilkley Hold Nerve to Beat Bacup
In a fiery encounter, Ilkley Town AFC came out on top against a determined Bacup Borough side to return to winning ways. Kevin Gonzalez ensured the Baht’atters held a slender lead at the break, before George Pearson doubled the advantage on the hour mark. Bacup halved the deficit to create a tense finale but the hosts’ defence kept the visitors at bay to record a hard-fought three points, writes Matthew Lambe.
Sam Dexter’s side raced out of the blocks and looked threatening in the early stages, having a header cleared off the line and Gonzalez being cruelly denied of a lob by the crossbar.
Undeterred by his previous chance, Gonzalez bagged a goal shortly afterwards. Alfie Dean and Jack Lane combined down the right flank before Dean dragged a low cross to Gonzalez, who found the bottom corner with a pinpoint effort.
Following this, tensions rose which resulted in both sides having to make a substitute for an injury. For Ilkley, Joe Edmonds was brought off following a late challenge.
Until half time, the ball was largely stuck in the middle third, with neither team wanting to concede so soon before the interval.
Goalkeeper Charlie Bell was called into action only a couple of minutes into the second half, as he made an excellent one-handed save to deny a header destined for the roof of the net.
George Pearson – playing in centre back today in place for Josh Parker – doubled the Baht’atters’ advantage after a goalmouth scramble. Borough keeper Mason Walker produced two solid saves to deny Matt Swift’s towering header and rebound, but couldn’t keep out Pearson’s attempt.
Spurred on by Pearson’s finish, the Baht’atters looked for a third; Gonzalez’s volley flashed wide, whilst George Gomersall came close after intercepting Walker’s clearance.
Borough halved the deficit with 15 minutes remaining , with a glancing header finding the net from a corner to set up an anxious finale for fans at the MPM Stadium.
The visitors’ pressed forward in search of an equaliser in the dying moments, but the Baht’atters defence were equal to everything Bacup threw at them, giving Sam Dexter’s side a well earned win against strong opposition.
Next up, Town travel to high-flying Chadderton on Tuesday 14th February then cross the Pennines to face Atherton LR on Saturday 18th February.
(Photo Credit: Paul O’Brien)