Ilkley Town AFC scored a sensational injury-time winner to overcome a strong Ashton Town side last weekend, writes Matthew Lambe.

A lacklustre first half from the Baht’atters saw them trailing by two goals at half-time before a strong second half fightback saw them record an impressive 4-3 win, earning a much-needed three points.

Trailing 3-1 after the first period, few of the 90 fans could’ve predicted the events of the second half but goals from Tom Smith, Matt Swift plus a brace from Kevin Gonzalez, in pouring rain, brought some early festive cheer to the MPM Stadium.

Almost straight from the restart Smith nearly brought his side within one as his effort was dragged narrowly wide from a George Gomersall cross.

The Baht’atters continued to pile on the pressure, with Gonzalez going close to finding the target, only for his powerful near-post strike to be parried out for a corner. Moments later, he gathered a deft chip from Gomersall, and sent keeper Cookson to the floor before he was tackled just before he tapped home.

Eventually, Ilkley’s sustained pressure paid dividends as Matt Swift found the bottom corner to bring hope to the hosts’ comeback. A routine free kick squirmed through Ashton’s defence to reach Swift, whose first-time finish was delicately placed back across goal.

At the other end, Michael Clifford executed a stunning one-handed save to deny the visitors restoring their two-goal cushion. From a free kick, a close range header was destined for the top corner, but Clifford was equal to it and parried it out for a corner.

Gonzalez added his name to the scoresheet following a quality team move, ensuring the game was all square entering the final 10 minutes. He pounced on Hudson’s low cross and hammered home beyond the reach of Cookson, teeing up a thrilling finale.

With Ilkley having been on the wrong end of so many injury-time winners, Gonzalez’s 93rd minute strike felt all the more special. Captain Harry Brown worked his way into the box, then squared to Gonzalez, who made no mistake as he drove his effort through the crowded path to goal, causing the Baht’atters players to fall to the ground in sheer jubilance as the ground erupted.

This dominant display in the final 45 minutes was in such contrast to the first half, where Tom Smith’s half volley was Ilkley’s sole shining light.

Ashton’s third goal, courtesy of Malumo, was a stroke of brilliance, but sloppy mistakes proved costly in allowing the visitors two further goals.

However, Ilkley’s defence were much more disciplined in the second half, shutting out Ashton’s attack for the most part and limiting them to only a couple of chances.

This victory could prove vital in the Baht’atters season, marking a change of form after their recent run of losses, and should inspire excitement over the Christmas period.

Next up, Town enjoy back-to-back home fixtures to see out the year – first is Bacup Borough on Saturday (December 18), then welcoming South Liverpool to the MPM on December 28.