Ilkley Town AFC gave a stellar second half performance to ease to a resounding win over fellow white rose outfit Shelley Community FC, assisted by two stunning strikes and textbook defending. A penalty and a beauty from Tom Smith gave the Baht’atters a two-goal cushion heading into the break, before Joe Edmonds’ superb curling finish put the game to bed, writes Matthew Lambe.
The visitors looked threatening in the early stages and created opportunities playing attractive football. However, they could only manage one shot on target during this period, which forced Jordan Moorhouse to produce a fine low save to tip wide.
A deft through ball allowed Kevin Gonzalez to break Shelley’s line of defence, and in their bid to block his run a defender hauled him down. Smith hammered the penalty home, with just enough power to beat Paul Day – who got a strong hand to Smith’s strike.
Smith’s opener gave Ilkley an aura of confidence, meaning subsequent attacks were coordinated more effectively. This was illustrated when Gonzalez came close after a long spell of build-up play from Sam Dexter’s side involving nearly every player.
Approaching the interval, Smith bagged a stunner to double Ilkley’s lead. From 30 yards, he curled an effort into the opposite top corner, leaving Day rooted to the spot.
The Baht’atters started the second half stronger than the first. Nathan Hunt – in fine goalscoring form this season – tried his luck from distance, while Day made an impressive save to deny Smith of a hat-trick after smart play from the returning Harry Brown.
Similarly to Saturday’s game versus Ashton Athletic, the Baht’atters midfield duo of James Nightingale and Nicc Hewitt won the midfield battle, supplying the forwards with plenty of service.
Edmonds added a third in spectacular style, with a goal resembling Smith’s earlier strike. Following a period of possession, he unleashed a bending attempt which flew into the top corner past the keeper.
Shelley still offered a degree of danger in the final third, but Matt Swift, Josh Parker and George Pearson cut out several half-chances. When the visitors overcame Ilkley’s defence, Moorhouse was equal to their shots.
The Baht’atters dominance of possession enabled them to sustain playing high intensity football for longer, resulting in a peppering of the Shelley penalty box in the closing stages.
Despite this, the Huddersfield-based side gave Ilkley a late scare after their forward rounded Moorhouse following an under-hit back pass, but Swift came to the rescue with a brilliant sliding goalline clearance.
Swift’s defensive heroics proved to be the final action, earning Dexter’s side a vital three points.
Looking to the future, Town welcome Runcorn Town to the MPM Stadium on Saturday 26th August before travelling to East Lancashire on Monday 28th August to face Bacup Borough.