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Ilkley gift victory to league leaders
Ilkley Town 2 Shelley 3
Ilkley had only themselves to blame after losing narrowly to the West Yorkshire Legaue Division One leaders.
They gifted Shelley their third goal and squandered four one-on-one situations.
With the Shelley goalie Lee Kelsey producing a man-of-the-match performance it all added up to a frustrating afternoon for Town.
On the plus side there were two more goals from for in-form Phil Thommesen in a second half revival which forced desperate defending by the visitors to preserve the three points.
Town kept up the late pressure despite being reduced to ten men for the final minutes after Chris Alderson limped off when all the substitutions had been made.
Shelley took the lead after eight minutes when a weak defensive clearance was headed back over Darren Munday where Andrew Farrall spun to lob the ball beyond James Hirst. Ilkley felt there was a suspicion of offside about that goal and the second one too which Gino Dignan netted after 20 minutes.
The home side should have pulled a goal back after 35 minutes when Ross Hutchison sent Adam Davey racing beyond the Shelley defence but the Ilkley striker delayed his shot and the chance went begging.
Just before the half-time interval, Thommesen slammed the ball high over the bar from a narrow angle with Davey waiting for a tap-in at the far-post. He also headed over from ten yards.
With Shelley playing long-ball football throughout, Ben Dexter and Munday tightened their grip on Farrell and Liam Berry in the second-half, allowing Ilkley to gain better possession.
Being forced back showed the forceful side of the league-leaders but Ilkley’s players matched this commitment and reduced the deficit after an hour with a flowing move.
The ball was passed across midfield before Davey was sent racing through the defensive line and his low cross was side-footed firmly past Kelsey by Thommesen.
With the visitors rattled and Ilkley on the ascendancy, the home side undermined this momentum in the 70th minute.
Defensive indecision at a long throw to the near-post allowed Berry to poke a shot towards goal where Hirst fumbled.
The ball hit a post before bouncing behind the goalie and running along the goal-line for Farrell to accept the gift.
Ilkley responded brilliantly and Robbie Oldham might have capped a promising debut when he drifted behind the Shelley defence only to see his lob over Kelsey drift wide of the far-post.
Kelsey made a wonderful reac- tion save with his feet from Danny Henderson’s 12-yard shot and blocked a Thommesen pile-driver but even he could only watch as Winward broke through and pushed his shot wide.
Thommesen and Alderson both burst into the box and attempted to chip the keeper but both efforts went wide.
The second-half performance by Ilkley showed the team can more than cope with this higher level of challenge and Shelley were mightily relieved and very fortunate to take all three points.