In a tightly-contested encounter, league newcomers Euxton Villa defeated Ilkley Town AFC by a narrow margin. The Baht’atters took an early lead, before Villa overturned the deficit to take home the three points, writes Matthew Lambe.
Sam Dexter’s side couldn’t have asked for a better start, with Ben Clarkson’s close range finish giving them an early advantage. Tom Smith drove to the byline before sliding a low cross towards Clarkson, who rifled the ball into the roof of the net.
At the other end of the MPM Stadium, goalkeeper Sam Blackiston pulled off a fabulous reflex save as he denied a goal bound effort from point blank range.
The Baht’atters continued to press forward in search of a second, and came tantalisingly close when Shaban Mehmeti cut inside from the right wing, forcing a fine save from the keeper with his curling attempt with the outside of his boot.
From the subsequent corner, Clarkson headed home at the far post; however, the referee deemed there was a foul whilst the cross was delivered.
Villa restored parity around the half hour mark, when striker Patrick Bobby fired into the bottom corner after finding space in the box.
On the stroke of half time, Mehmeti once again nearly found the back of the net in spectacular fashion. This time, his strike from distance thundered just over the bar.
The Lancastrian outfit took a fortuitous lead early in the second half, when Joe Edmonds’ mistimed clearance looped into the back of the net.
To make matters worse, captain Matt Swift was sent off for a professional foul on Ian Billington who was through on goal on the edge of the box, leaving Ilkley with 10 men for the remainder of the game.
Despite Swift’s loss, the hosts dominated the final twenty minutes and nearly found an equaliser when a deflected effort almost caught out the keeper, but Villa’s defence were equal to everything thrown at them. George Gomersall then had an attempted bicycle kick following a darting run from substitute Blake Wood.
A frustrating outcome for Ilkley in a hard fought and at times testy contest. This result sees both sides stay in their respective league positions, with the Baht’atters lying in 6th and Euxton in 2nd.
Looking to the future, Town cross the Pennines to face Daisy Hill on 24th September, before heading to Merseyside for a fixture against South Liverpool on 1st October.