Ilkley Town 4 Otley Rovers 0
Ilkley Town cracked open the champagne as they celebrated lifting the Wharfe dale & District Challenge Cup for the first time in its 108-year history.
The final scoreline was slightly flattering to the West Yorkshire Division One outfit, but they were the better team on the night.
They were smarter at retaining the ball than their rivals and carried the greater attacking threat against an Otley Rovers team that had performed remarkably well to reach its first final.
On a warm and calm evening at Guiseley’s Nether- moor Park ground, a decent crowd witnessed a typically nervous start by both sides.
Otley Rovers almost broke the deadlock in the fifth minute with a snapshot that Ilkley ‘keeper James Hirst deflected onto a post as the ball travelled through a ruck of players in the goalmouth.
Gradually, Ilkley began to maintain possession and press Otley onto the defensive with shots by Adam Davey, Joe Hendrie and Phil Thommesen being safely gathered by the opposition ‘keeper.
Despite slipping as he tried to cross the ball, Davey managed to set-up Thomm- esen for a near-post header that was inches wide.
Ilkley were causing problems down the left where Danny Henderson and Dave Hancock found space to attack former Guiseley Reserves and Ilkley player Matty Larkin.
On the half-hour Thomm- esen raced onto a Ben Dexter pass and blasted over the bar from the edge of the box when he had time and space to move closer to goal.
But he made amends five minutes later when he opened the scoring with a firm near-post header from Henderson’s in-swinging corner.
Needing another goal to consolidate the lead, Ilkley Town were forced onto the defensive in the opening exchanges of the second-half as Otley battled for an equaliser.
A header from Larkin’s free-kick thudded against the post and Hirst made two fine saves in quick succession as Ilkley tried to weather the storm.
Eventually it subsided as Ilkley gradually began to exert control of the game.
Ilkley midfielder James Winward was as combative as ever during this period receiving a bit of guidance from Premiership referee Jon Moss after one determined challenge.
It was fitting that he doubled Ilkley’s lead when his low shot was fumbled into the net by the Otley ‘keeper.
This was a turning point in the game coming after Thommesen had rounded the ‘keeper and missed the target from a narrow angle.
For the final 20 minutes it was damage limitation for Otley as Andy Bloom smashed a shot into the corner of the net from 25 yards for Ilkley’s third.
The Otley ‘keeper made a string of diving saves to thwart Sam Dexter, James Wilson and Davey.
Ilkley’s fourth came after 80 minutes when Thommesen claimed his second with another thumping header from Damian Smith’s cross.
This was a marvellous outcome and a historic occasion for Ilkley Town against an Otley Rovers side that should be very proud of its achievements and was magnanimous in defeat.
Ilkley’s Darren Munday was named man of the match for another athletic and committed display. He received his trophy before skipper Bloom finally got his hands on the cup.