Whitkirk Wanderers 1 Ilkley Town 1
ILKLEY travelled to Whitkirk for their third game of the season and on paper a difficult away trip. They were greeted with glorious conditions and a superb pitch to play on.
The game started with a high tempo, both teams trying to establish some control in the game. The first sight of goal fell to Ilkley, from an inswinging corner which the home side failed to deal with and the ball fell to Ben Dexter who smashed the ball at goal only to see the Whitkirk keeper spread himself and save.
Within minutes Whitkirk were ahead, their lively centre forward finding space in the Ilkley penalty area, shifting the ball past James Wilson who in his attempt to win the ball upended his opponent, penalty kick. The ball was dispatched into the corner of the net, 1-0.
Ilkley now started to find more space in the midfield third and with more dominance on the ball began to create more goalscoring opportunities.
AFter 28 minutes Lu Ndovi found space on the right hand side and slid the ball across to Adam Fowler, who unfortunately made a poor connection.
Five minutes later Adam Fowler was involved again as he worked incredibly hard to close down the centre half, won the ball, took a great touch out of his feet and into the penalty area only to blaze the ball over the bar.
Finally Ilkley's pressure paid off as Lu Ndovi won a free kick on the left hand side. Ben Dexter delivered to the far post where James Wilson was given the simplest of tasks to head into the net, 1-1.
Ilkley started the second half as they finished the first, on the front foot. Within minutes of the restart Dave Hancock and Damien Smith had combined well down the left hand side before delivering to the far post where Adam Fowler's header drifted just wide. On 60 minutes Adam Fowler drifted out wide, beat his man and drove the ball across for Damien Smith, who unfortunately failed to make a clean contact. Great work again by Adam Fowler saw him beat three men near the byline, work his way towards goal and then go for the shot from the tightest of angles, rather than square the ball for a tap in, and the goalkeeper saved.
In the final fifteen minutes Ilkley continued to push and the game became stretched. Whitkirk were dangerous during the closing moments as they looked to utilise their pacy right winger and mobile front two. This approach almost paid off as they had two glorious chances to take all three points, but on both occasions missed the target.
Although a solid point away from home, Ilkley will feel they could and should have taken all three points. Ilkley will need to be more determined and clinical when they visit Pool next Wednesday in a replay of last seasons Wharfedale Cup final.