With the end of the season looming, Ilkley Town AFC gained a deserved point against a disciplined FC St Helens side, although the Baht’atters may feel aggrieved to have not left the MPM Stadium with the victory. The visitors took the lead in the 20th minute through Joe Barker’s travela finish before Tom Fleming equalised moments later, whilst a goalless second half ensured the points were shared, writes Matthew Lambe.
Both Ilkley and St Helens showed their capabilities early on, with Nathan Hunt almost giving his side an early lead, whilst at the other end the visitors would’ve been through on goal if it wasn’t for the linesman’s flag.
Despite having a much larger proportion of possession, the Baht’atters conceded the opening goal.St Helens’ talisman Barker opened the scoring after finding the bottom corner via the woodwork – despite valid calls from Ilkley of a foul on Josh Parker.
Nevertheless, Sam Dexter’s side drew level within five minutes, with Fleming’s fine finish rounding off an excellent team play. Jack Lane’s delivery was nodded into the path of Fleming, who made no mistake as his effort flashed past goalkeeper Joe Mason.
The Baht’atters were creating more opportunities, but the visitors still looked threatening on the break. Their winger nearly restored FC’s lead but was denied by a fingertip save from Tim Edney, palming the ball onto the post – meaning the sides were inseparable heading into the interval.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first, but Ilkley were unable to break through FC’s defence. A slight deflection prevented a low cross from reaching George Pearson inside the box, whilst Alfie Dean evaded several challenges and slipped the ball forward, but was pulled back for a controversial offside.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Edney was called into action again, saving a towering header destined for the top corner.
The Baht’atters’ best chance arrived when Hunt was clattered inside the box by Mason, with the referee awarding a penalty and a booking for the keeper. However, Mason guessed the right way to deny Dean from 12 yards.
For the final 10 minutes neither side was able to test Edney or Mason, so the game largely revolved around the middle third until the referee blew for full time with the score even.
Next up, Town have consecutive away fixtures – firstly at Nelson on Thursday 6th April (kickoff 7:45pm) before visiting fellow Yorkshire outfit Steeton on Monday 10th April (kickoff 3pm).