In their first appearance in the FA Vase, Ilkley Town AFC did themselves proud with an excellent performance despite narrowly losing 2-1 to Penrith AFC. After Kevin Gonzalez initially gave the Baht’atters the lead, the visitors overturned the deficit to progress into the next round, writes Matthew Lambe.
Penrith forward Bryce Dean-Norman recorded the first chance of the game, as his one-on-one attempt sailed out of the MPM Stadium.
In the 20th minute, the hosts broke the deadlock courtesy of Kevin Gonzalez; after bursting down the wing, he beat keeper Luke Miller at the near post with a powerful strike from a tight angle.
Gonzalez came close to adding a second in a similar fashion, but this time the keeper parried his goal-bound effort.
Baht’atters keeper Callum Gladding produced a quick-reflex save, as he stopped an effort from Dean-Norman from a couple of yards out.
On the stroke of half time, Penrith bagged an equaliser; Jamie Armstrong struck a free kick from a dangerous position, and his finish curled around the wall and into the bottom corner, leaving the game all square at the interval.
Ilkley almost restored their advantage from kick-off, when Gonzalez fizzed an inviting cross along the six-yard line, but Tom Smith couldn’t quite make connection.
Armstrong bagged his brace when his long range strike nestled into the corner. James Best cut inside before laying off to Armstrong, who made no mistakes with his first-time finish.
Gladding was called into action, this time diving down low to push a bouncing shot wide.
The final half hour saw the Baht’atters press forward in search of an equaliser, resulting in a series of nicely-worked team moves. Tom Smith and Harry Brown exchanged passes before Gonzalez smashed an attempt on goal, whilst Alfie Heaton and Smith combined on the left flank to cause the visitors problems.
McCauley Smith nearly won a penalty for his side, after his deflected free kick sparked shouts of appeal to the referee, but he waved it away.
Following this was a lengthy stoppage, as a Penrith centre back appeared to go down in pain. Consequently he had to be stretchered off by the physios, and we wish him the best of luck on a speedy recovery.
The final few minutes saw end-to-end football, leaving an entertaining spectacle for the supporters. Firstly Dean-Norman hit the post from close range, before a glancing header from Gonzalez flashed narrowly wide.
This action concluded the match, ensuring Penrith advance in the competition whilst the Baht’atters bow out. Despite this, Town displayed a convincing performance in their first FA Vase fixture.
Next up, Ilkley welcome St Helens Town to the MPM Stadium next weekend before travelling to local side Campion AFC on 25th September.