Headingley AFC 3- Ilkley Town AFC 3
On a snowy Saturday afternoon, Ilkley Town AFC bagged two late goals to earn a 3-3 away draw with a competitive Headingley side in the first league match of the shortened season, writes Matthew Lambe.
The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better opening, breaking the deadlock in under 10 minutes. Joe Chialaka burst down the left wing before squaring to Harry Brown, who tucked home his finish.
A knock to the knee for winger Matt Whitehead caused an early substitution for Simon Armstrong’s side, with George Gomersall replacing him.
Headingley’s first chance formed in the twentieth minute, with their no 11 firing over the bar from close range following a nicely worked team move.
Only moments later, the hosts’ equalled the scoring, courtesy of their no 7. Winning the ball on the halfway line, he dribbled towards the penalty box, before blasting his strike into the top left corner.
Wanting to restore their advantage, captain Richard Bull pressed forward and unleashed a powerful strike destined for the top left corner. However, Headingley’s keeper came to his side’s rescue to produce a one-handed save, parrying the ball out for a corner.
Early in the second half, Headingley took the lead through a free-kick. Their no 8 curled his attempt around the wall, nestling into the far corner.
The Baht’atters retaliated with a flurry of chances, with both Brown and Bull being denied from inside the box by blocks from the defence.
Against the run of play, the hosts cemented their advantage by adding a third; a low cross was met by their no 11, who slotted into the far corner.
Approaching the last 10 minutes, Ilkley pulled a goal back to set up a dramatic finale. A delicate through ball was threaded into substitute Tom Smith, who volleyed convincingly into the top left corner.
In stunning fashion, the Baht’atters levelled the scoring in the final few minutes, thanks to a fabulous solo goal from Chilaka. After winning possession, he beat two defenders and cut inside, before striking into the bottom left corner beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.
With the last action of the game, Tim Edney produced a fine save to deny a close range header, preventing the hosts from taking all three points.
Shortly afterwards the final whistle blew, capping off a thrilling encounter between two closely matched teams, with Ilkley showing great character by mounting a comeback to rescue a point.
Ilkley face another tough challenge next weekend, hosting Hunslet at the MPM Stadium for the second game in shortened season.