On a scorching hot Saturday afternoon, Ilkley Town AFC bagged
a hard-fought victory against Step 6 side Steeton, writes Matthew Lambe.  

Straight from the whistle, the game was wide open. Ilkley
played flowing football, but neither team could find the end product, resulting
in an even, end-to-end opening.  

This theme continued until after the drinks break, when clear
cut chances were beginning to form, and none were closer than Smith’s short-range
attempt. Ilkley’s number 9 found himself barely six yards out on the receiving
end of a low cross, but the visitor’s keeper spread himself wide and got a
strong hand to deny Smith’s otherwise goal bound effort.  

Frustrated after not scoring, the hosts continued to pile on
the pressure, with a string of close opportunities, including a threaded
through ball from James Nightingale which was almost tucked home by Harry
Brown, but his shot was only inches wide of the target.  

It was Steeton who started the second half with more energy
and purpose, capitalising on Ilkley’s mistakes. This was evident when a stray
pass from an Ilkley throw in was intercepted by a Steeton midfielder; unlike in
the first half, the visitors pressed forward as a team and subsequently found
themselves one on one with substitute goalkeeper Dan Bramham. Luckily for
Ilkley, Bramham instinctively dived down low to prevent being rounded by the
oncoming attacker.  

This was shortly followed by another one on one from
Steeton, but their winger scooped the ball just wide of the near post. Barely
moments later, a 20-yard shot from Steeton smacked against the crossbar,
falling back into open play.  

After surviving the immense pressure, Ilkley set about
regaining a foothold, and once again began to play their attractive style of football.
This continued for a sustained period until, in the 79th minute,
Simon Armstrong’s men were rewarded for their efforts with a goal. 

Brown picked out Joe Garside on the wing, who dribbled to
the by-line before sending in a well-timed, low cross towards the path of Smith.
His neatly slotted shot gave the hosts the lead.  

In the final moments of the game, Steeton showed their
determination to overturn the one goal deficit and had a couple of very close
attempts. However, Ilkley clung on to their advantage and registered a second
consecutive victory.  

This win ensured that the Baht’atters continue their perfect
pre-season record. They will carry great confidence into their forthcoming
matches, after showing themselves capable of beating a higher league
opposition.