Ilkley Town 2 Stanley United 1
Two goals from top-scorer Adam Davey secured all three points on Ilkley’s return to league action in the West Yorkshire League Division One on Saturday.
It was a stop-start game with neither side able to find fluency in their play. Numerous fouls hampered any tempo or flow in the game and, although Ilkley had the better possession and territorial advantage for most of the match, the visitors spurned two opportunities to score that they will come to regret.
The opening 20 minutes contained very little penalty area action as both teams fought to dominate the midfield where Ilkley’s James Winward, Ross Hutchison and Sam Dexter gradually gained control as Stanley players threw themselves into tackles.
The visitors spurned a gilt-edged chance to take the lead when Matthew Oxer’s fierce free-kick was parried by James Hirst and David Ellis hit the rebound wide of the far post.
Playing neat possession football between free-kicks, Ilkley looked more likely to score and duly took the lead after 35 minutes when Joe Hendrie slid a pass behind the full-back for Sam Dexter to drive forward into the box and cut the ball back to Davey who side-footed into an unguarded net.
A fine header from Davey after a cross from James Hanna was inches too high as Ilkley sought a second goal before the end of the half.
Ilkley came out for the second half playing a higher tempo, restricting Stanley to long balls, which were dealt with comfortably.
Davey almost increased Ilkley’s lead after capitalising on a poor back pass but skewed his shot wide.
Within minutes of this let off, Stanley should have equalised, a header from a free kick drifting just wide. Davey was on hand to punish the visitors after 75 minutes when he intercepted a square pass and stroked the ball past Locker from the edge of the box.
Ilkley contrived to gift the visitors a goal in the 88th minute when Ellis avoided another offside claim and prodded the ball past Hirst, who then made a brave diving save in the final minute after a long throw.
That was Stanley’s final chance and Ilkley were able to hold on to secure victory.
On Saturday, Ilkley Town welcome Rawdon Old Boys to Ben Rhydding in the semi-final of the Wharfedale & District FA Challenge Cup 1.30pm).