ILKLEY Town ensured they would be sitting top of the West Yorkshire League Premier Division at Christmas by coming from behind to beat Horbury Town 3-2.

Tom Smith bagged a brace either side of the break to continue a remarkable unbeaten start to the season for the Baht’atters.

The opening period was a relatively cagey affair, with midfield possession being a key factor, although neither side could find a breakthrough.

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 25th minute, courtesy of a Smith penalty.

Simon Armstrong’s side were awarded the spot kick when a cross from Harry Brown struck a hand. Despite Horbury keeper Tom Padgett diving the right way, the strike was too powerful.

At the other end, Tim Edney was called into action to save a free kick swerving towards the top corner.

Ilkley only held their lead for 10 minutes before the visitors levelled the scoring. From a looping corner, Bobby Evans rose highest to head the ball home.

On the stroke of half time, they were punished once again. Edney denied a good effort from striker Gibril Bojang, but the ball fell to Kieran Stevenson who was free to lob from close range.

Keen to pull back the deficit, the home team pressed forwards immediately in the second half, and scored an equaliser five minutes in. Captain Richard Bull received a neat lay off pass, before slotting the ball home via a slight deflection.

Capitalising on their momentum, Town were back in the lead only 15 minutes later.

A low free kick from Joe Garside found Bull whose shot caused the ball to bounce unchallenged in the six-yard box. Smith’s striker instinct kicked in, meaning he was the first to pounce on the loose ball and slid his attempt just beyond the reach of the keeper.

This was subsequently followed by a flurry of attempts from Ilkley, including a close-range header that bounced off the inside of the post.

Horbury continued to pose a threat in attack, however hopes of a comeback were dashed when defender Ben Parkinson received a second yellow card for a tactical foul on Brown.

In the final few minutes, Kevin Gonzalez nearly sealed the result. He made a darting run through the centre of the field, before his rocketed shot smashed off the crossbar.

This result concludes a successful year for Armstrong and his team who will resume their title plans on January 2.

Matthew Lambe