Robin Hood Athletic 2 Ilkley Town 3
Ilkley Town warmed up for this Saturday’s League Cup quarter-final at Horbury with a fine win over their Division One promotion-chasing rivals.
Goals from Adam Fowler, James Hanna and Adam Davey enabled them to build on the previous week’s comprehensive victory over Swillington Saints and deliver a victory for stand-in boss Frank Carter.
With manager Dave Houlston away, Carter delivered a powerful pre-match pep talk in which he demanded maximum effort.
His words looked to have fallen on deaf ears as Ilkley started slowly and struggled to get a hold in the game. However they did rally and began to create chances, while the defence superbly organised by Ben Dexter and Darren Munday, coped well with Robin Hood’s long ball tactics.
Despite this it was Robin Hood who took the lead midway through the first half. Gaining scrappy possession on the half-way line, the ball fell kindly for Robin Hood allowing for a quick counter attack.
When the ball was eventually played into the Ilkley box from the left it eluded the back-tracking defence before falling to the oncoming Robin Hood striker Lee Jaques who calmly finished past James Hirst.
The Ilkley players were again rallied by Carter at the half-time break, and they responded quickly.
The excellent James Wilson found James Hanna in space in the Robin Hood half, and he played a precise ball over the top of the defence to Fowler.
He took the ball down with an excellent first touch before drilling low into the bottom corner past the outstretched keeper.
The goal clearly gave the Ilkley Town players confidence with the midfield three of James Winward, Ross Hutchinson and Joe Hendrie starting to dominate possession.
They were particularly quick to the loose ball.
This increased pressure told. With a slight hint of fortune, Hutchinson found Hanna out wide on the right and he looked to play the ball into the box for Davy only for his ball to swerve and loop over the head of the Robin Hood keeper into the far corner of the net. Ilkley appeared well in control of the game with Hirst a virtual spectator. However this was soon to change when Robin Hood gained some rare possession in the Ilkley half.
When the ball was crossed into the box Dexter appeared to make a good block, but the referee disagreed and awarded a penalty.
Town were outraged but Dale Pickering stayed calm to slot home the penalty for Robin Hood.
Coach Carter must have been concerned that such a fortunate goal might have led to an Ilkley collapse against a side that beat Town 3-0 in the reverse fixture. However instead it was Ilkley who took the lead within minutes of the restart.
Another high-tempo passing move resulted in the ball been played into the Robin Hood box which the defence failed to clear under pressure from Fowler. He laid the ball off for Winward who with good feet fashioned a shot which the keeper could only parry into the path of Davey for a tap in.
Town’s players fought hard in the last 15 minutes to hold on for impressive win.