On a bleak Saturday afternoon, Ilkley Town’s attacking,
free-flowing style of football contrasted with the solid defence of Stanley
United, resulting in an entertaining game that finished all square, writes
Matthew Lambe.  

Despite being a pre-season friendly, both teams know this
was an important contest since this could have been the fixture for the West
Yorkshire League Cup Final.  

The Baht’atters started the game stronger, subjecting the
visitors to some early pressure. This included a couple of close attempts from
Lewis Hey and Joe Garside.  

In the 14th minute, Ilkley’s pressure culminated
into a goal. Harry Brown received possession from James Nightingale on the edge
of the box, before shooting into the bottom right corner, ricocheting off the
inside of the post on its way in.  

The hosts won a free kick roughly 20 yards out and Garside,
keen to score a third free kick in three consecutive games, lined up to strike
it. He opted for power, and his shot forced out a good save from the opposition
goalkeeper.  

Stanley United showed their quality in the 37th
minute after successfully breaking through Ilkley’s defence via a neat string
of passes. This build-up plays eventually worked its way through to their
striker, who struck the ball low across goal to level the scoring.   

On the stroke of half time, Nightingale came tantalisingly
close to restoring Ilkley’s lead in the most spectacular fashion. His shot
rocketed towards goal, thumping against the underside of the crossbar before
bouncing back into open play.  

In the second half, it was the visitors who registered the
first goal, against the run of play. A free kick on target was saved, but not
palmed away from danger, allowing United’s right winger to score a tap in.  

Only a few minutes later, the visitors were incredibly
unlucky not to add a third goal, after goalkeeper Tim Edney barely made up for
his mistake. After dropping the ball and seeing it roll slowly onto the goal
line, he dived back to prevent it from fully crossing, with only millimetres to
spare.  

In the 70th minute, Ilkley bagged an equaliser,
after a superb through ball from Nightingale picked out James Hudson, who
tactically delayed his shot to force a reaction from the keeper, before
blasting the ball into the bottom right corner.  

Following on from this, the Baht’atters had another spell of
pressure, with Tom Smith hitting the side netting, Lee McGowan heading just
wide, and a long shot from George Gomersall on target.  

At the other end, Stanley United twice nearly bagged a
winner, when a close-range volley was squandered, and a defensive lapse in
concentration from the hosts led to their substitute striker heading barely
inches wide.  

Despite this, neither team could find the all-important
goal, meaning the game finished tied up at 2-2.  

This was the penultimate pre-season friendly for the
Baht’atters, and a game where they can be satisfied by the performance, whilst
also learning from their defensive lapses to mount a promotion push in the
forthcoming season.