In their opening pre-season friendly, Ilkley Town AFC’s under 23’s earned a convincing victory against Barnoldswick Town under 23’s. Two goals either side of half time gave the Baht’atters an advantage, whilst the defence remained solid and limited the visitors to only a handful of chances, writes Matthew Lambe.
Joe Garside’s side began on the front foot, recording several chances within the first quarter of an hour. Joe Edmonds wiggled through the defence before forcing a save from George Gregson, whilst James Hughes volleyed over from close range after he was set up by Harley Lambert.
Lambert unfortunately picked up an injury moments later, and Josh Bowers came on as his replacement.
Centre back Josh Parker beat two defenders with a step over, before launching the ball forwards towards Hughes, who slid the ball across to Edmonds. His first time strike was beyond the reach of Gregson, giving his side an early lead.
10 minutes later, Ilkley had doubled their advantage, with Hughes deservedly getting his name on the scoresheet. He evaded several challenges, before finding the near post with a powerful effort.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, Barnoldswick would’ve halved the deficit if it wasn’t for Alfie Heaton’s well-timed block. Moments later, James Hudson’s block preserved Ilkley’s two goal cushion, whilst goalkeeper Blackiston caught the rebound.
The hosts could’ve scored another before half-time, with Nicc Hewitt’s attempt sailing narrowly over the bar from Heaton’s inviting cross.
With the first action of the second half, the Baht’atters u23’s added a third. Parker’s lofted pass floated over the visitors’ defence, putting Hudson in a one-on-one position. He guided the ball around Gregson, and rolled the ball into the empty net.
In the 69th minute, Barnoldswick pulled one back; a corner failed to be dealt with, allowing their forward to score from a couple of yards out.
Joe Garside brought on Keiran Whelan and Jacob Hudson, who are currently both involved in the under 19’s scholarship pathway programme in partnership with local school St Mary’s.
Ilkley’s lead was extended when Bowers dribbled past Gregson, and slotted home with ease.
Soon after, the referee blew for full time, giving Joe Garside’s team a deserved 4-1 victory.
Next up, the u23’s welcome Harrogate Railway u23’s to the MPM Stadium on Monday 15th August, before hosting UFCA on Monday 5th September.