Resounding Baht’atters Progress to Cup Semi Finals

In the quarter final of the First Division Cup, Ilkley Town AFC prevailed over Abbey Hulton United to be the first team to secure their place in the upcoming semi finals. Goals either side of the break – courtesy of Luke Barker and Ben Atkinson – gave the Baht’atters a two goal cushion, whilst another excellent defensive display ensured a fourth successive victory in the competition, writes Matthew Lambe.

The Staffordshire-based visitors created problems initially, with a sliding challenge from James Nightingale preventing an early goal.

This proved to be a wake-up call for Sam Dexter’s side, as they seemed to find their stride following the early scare; Ben Atkinson slid an inviting cross into the box, but was just out of reach for James Hughes.

Hulton keeper Zak Hill was soon called into action, tipping a goalbound effort over on two occasions. Firstly, he denied Aaron Davis, before preventing Tom Fleming from converting a spectacular effort.

Only moments later, the hosts took the lead after Barker’s precise strike was too much for Hill. He controlled the ball on the penalty spot, before turning past the defender and aiming a powerful shot into the top corner.

The visitors almost restored parity within minutes, but a long range thunderbolt from their midfielder rattled the underside of the crossbar and bounced back into open play.

Shortly before half time, tempers boiled over, as Nicc Hewitt was given his marching orders for kicking out at an opposition player on the ground. However, his side weren’t outnumbered for long as, in the scenes that followed, Jamie Turner was sent off for language towards the referee.

In the second half, Ilkley’s defence – commanded by Matt Swift – were impenetrable, with him and Josh Parker preventing the visitors from finding an equaliser. On the few occasions they were beaten, goalkeeper George Gregson saved every shot he faced.

The Baht’atters pushed for a second, and substitute Tom Smith nearly gave his side what they were looking for. After receiving the ball from Harry Brown, he unleashed a forceful strike that would’ve burst the net had it been on target.

Smith came close to scoring again, producing an equally thunderous shot that narrowly flew over.

In the 75th minute, Ben Atkinson doubled the advantage with a deft finish between Hill’s legs. One on one with the keeper, he made no mistake as his effort rolled into the far corner, to seal the result.

Hill produced a fine save to deny Atkinson of his brace, after his edge of the box strike looked destined to find the back of the net.

Soon after, referee Kieran Chell blew the whistle for full time, guaranteeing the Baht’atters progression into the semi finals. Moreover, Town produced a resounding performance – led from the front by captain Harry Brown - with clinical finishing combined with a clean sheet.

Next up will be the Baht’atters semi-final, which currently has no confirmed date.