In a game steeped with drama, Ilkley Town AFC emerged victorious to earn three points away from home against a physical Daisy Hill side. All five goals occurred in the first half – with Ben Clarkson, Tom Smith and Nathan Hunt on target for the Baht’atters – whilst a feisty second half saw a red card and three sin bins, writes Matthew Lambe.
The hosts flew out of the blocks and found themselves leading after only five minutes, as Connor Hughes fired into the roof of the net from a one on one.
Sam Dexter’s side responded almost immediately, and restored parity barely 10 minutes later courtesy of a fine finish from Clarkson. He skipped past two defenders before rifling a powerful effort into the top corner.
This set an attacking tone for rest of the game, which gave plenty of work for both goalkeepers. Sam Blackiston denied Jordan Lazenbury from close range, and was equal to virtually everything that came his way.
Daisy Hill’s Jake O’Brien burst down the wing and whipped a cross in towards Lazenbury, who nodded home routinely to restore his side’s advantage.
Once again, their lead didn’t last long; Shaban Mehmeti was brought down on the edge of the box, and Smith calmly dispatched the resulting penalty to bring Ilkley back on level terms.
On the stroke of half time, a nicely-worked team move saw the Baht’atters overturn the deficit. Joe Edmonds’ chipped ball found Hunt, who beat the keeper with a neat finish.
Early in the second half, Daisy Hill found themselves down to 10 men for a short spell after Kieran Nolan was sin-binned for dissent towards the referee.
Whilst the hosts were a man down, Ilkley recorded a flurry of chances, with Tom Fleming and Josh Bowers both nearly adding a fourth. Mehmeti came the closest though, after his low free kick took a deflection and was clawed away by Morgan Newns on the line.
With around a quarter of an hour to go, tensions boiled over and Daisy Hill received a further two sin bins, taking their tally to three for the second half alone; skipper Connor Hughes and Jake Parker were given their marching orders for abusive language aimed towards the referee.
During injury time, emotions escalated again and Jack Lane was given a second yellow card. This set up a nervy final few minutes for the travelling Baht’atters faithful, but Josh Parker and George Pearson maintained Ilkley’s lead with several vital headers in the box.
The referee soon blew for full time to give Sam Dexter’s side the three points, inflicting the Lancastrian outfit with their first home loss of the season.
Looking to the future, Town travel to Merseyside to face South Liverpool on 1st October, before welcoming Euxton Villa to the MPM Stadium in the Edward Case Cup on 8th October.
(Photo Credit: Nick Gerrard)