Ilkley Town AFC picked up another three points on the road as they defeated a disciplined South Liverpool side. The Baht’atters held a slender lead at the interval, but a dominant second half performance - both offensively and defensively - saw them put a further three past the hosts whilst registering a clean sheet, writes Matthew Lambe.
Spectators enjoyed end-to-end action in the opening half hour, with both sides unlucky not to score. Liverpool hit the post from a corner, and goalkeeper Sam Blackiston smothered the ball before the onrushing forward could reach the rebound. At the other end, Tom Smith shot narrowly wide, whilst Shaban Mehmeti forced a save out of Peter Webster from a free kick.
Sam Dexter’s side found an opening in the 38th minute through Smith; after Webster spilled an effort from Josh Bowers, Smith responded quickest and rifled the rebound into the back of the net.
Early in the second half, South’s Owen Hough was denied a spectacular equaliser by the crossbar. He unleashed a curling effort from long distance that ricocheted off the woodwork and bounced into open play.
The hosts continued to threaten, and missed the target from point blank range. In the following attack, Blackiston produced a quick reflex save to prevent a powerful header.
Ilkley retaliated with a flurry of opportunities, most notably when Josh Parker’s long pass was flicked on by Nathan Hunt, causing it to float over everyone – including their goalkeeper – forcing a goalline clearance.
With 25 minutes remaining, the Baht’atters doubled their lead. Skipper Harry Brown sparked the attack, playing a defence-splitting through ball for George Gomersall to chase; he beat his man for pace before playing a low cross, which was turned in by a defender.
Town put the game out of sight by adding another in quick succession. As was the case with the previous goal, Brown played a through ball – this time to Bowers, who rounded the keeper and slotted into the unguarded goal.
Ilkley continued to pile on the pressure and bagged a fourth barely five minutes later, with Bowers on target again. His powerful strike found the far post after Kevin Gonzalez provided the assist.
Determined to preserve their clean sheet, the Baht’atters defence kept out everything the hosts threw at them. The defence – consisting of Hewitt, Pearson, Swift and Parker – limited the danger from the opposition attack, whilst Blackiston was equal to each shot he faced on the few times the back line was beaten, including a stunning save to deny Hough in the final minute.
This result maintains Ilkley’s impressive away form, whilst South Liverpool remain in the relegation zone – a little harsh considering the quality of their team.
Next up, Town turn their attention to the cup, hosting Euxton Villa in the Edward Case Cup on 8th October, before welcoming Bacup Borough to the MPM Stadium in the Macron Cup on 15th October.
(Photo Credit: Nick Gerrard)