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Swillington are more Saintly this time in draw
Swillington Saints 1, Ilkley Town 1
After an incident-packed game between the two sides three weeks previously when Swilington had eight players booked and one sent-off, this West Yorkshire Association League contest was another competitive game that was, thankfully, played in a better spirit.
Despite conceding an equaliser in the final ten minutes and having dominated possession for most of the game, Ilkley Town were thankful to goalkeeper James Hirst for three close-range saves.
On a bumpy pitch, Ilkley managed to play some decent passing football, with midfielder Tom Higman and Liam Blenkhorn linking well, and every Ilkley player was quick to put opponents under pressure – something that hasn’t always happened this season.
After 15 minutes, Alan Stockdale and Blenkhorn combined to send Danny Henderson racing behind the Swillington defence, only for the Ilkley man to blast the ball over.
A fine cross by Phil Thommeson just eluded Stockdale before Henderson’s corner was flicked on by Blenkhorn at the near post and Darren Munday, racing in at the far-post, somehow managed to miskick from five yards when a goal seemed inevitable.
At times, Swillington broke quickly and with purpose, and Hirst made a fine close-range save when Waite darted between Andy Bloom and Dave Hancock.
The Ilkley keeper came to the rescue again minutes later when Dobson was allowed to continue when clearly offside, and Hirst managed to block the shot.
Despite these dangerous moments, it was Ilkley’s players who turned round at half-time feeling that more should have been made of their possession.
The second half followed much the same pattern as the first, with Ilkley piecing together some sharp passing moves and competing well all over the pitch. Full back James Winward subdued Swillington’s danger man Dobson as the home side struggled to gain any momentum.
On the hour, Ilkley took a deserved lead with a fine goal. Munday’s pass to Higman on the edge of the box was played first-time into the path of Thomesson, who drew Longdon from his goal and slipped the ball past him into the far corner of the net.
Needing to add to the score, Henderson’s curling shot forced Longdon into a fine diving save, and Blenkhorn’s free-kick was well held. Hirst then came to the rescue as the otherwise reliable Ben Dexter allowed a long punt to bounce on the edge of the area. Waites turned inside the defender, his low shot across Hirst being deflected for a corner by an out-stretched boot.
Having been warned by this breakaway, Ilkley conceded an equaliser when another long pass led to Bloom getting the wrong side of Waite, the Swillington striker lobbing the ball beyond Hirst from 20 yards.
However, Ilkley almost got a second when Miles Ratcliffe’s cross was headed inches wide by sub Sam Jacomb.
Ilkley face a stern challenge on Saturday at promotion candidates Brighouse Town (2.30pm) .