Ilkley Town manager Simon Armstrong has praised his squad’s work ethic and strength in depth after his side cruised through the first round of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup on Saturday.
The West Yorkshire League Premier League side, who sit in 12th place in the league having been promoted from Division One last term, saw off York League side Tadcaster Magnets 4-1 in a game that Armstrong admitted wasn’t as easy as the scoreline might suggest.
“It’s always difficult in the County Cup,” he said. “You tend to get thrown together with clubs you know nothing about, and that was the case with Tadcaster. You always get one or two good teams that come out of those leagues which makes it dangerous.”
After what Armstrong himself described as a sloppy start, Ilkley went behind before an Iain Blackburn equaliser took them into half-time with honours even.
A goal for talismanic captain Danny Bott and a second consecutive double for man of the match Matt Tolleson saw the hosts off in the last half hour.
“They were a very decent outfit, very organised and difficult to break down at times. In all honesty, on the day, the main difference between the two teams was fitness and the fact that we were just a bit more clinical than them, moving the ball forward better and finishing well.”
After a run of games that saw the Coutances Way side edged out by just one goal in five out of six league matches, four of those by one goal to nil, Ilkley have found their scoring boots. Having disposed of Horbury Town 4-2 in the league last weekend, Armstrong’s men have bagged eight in two.
“Scoring has been our Achilles heel, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “If you look across the league, our defence is one of the strongest, whilst our attack has been among the weakest.”
“We’ve not panicked. We’ve spoken at length about sticking to our principles and believing in our abilities, and that results would come on the back of that. Hopefully that’s happening now.”
Elsewhere, fellow Premier Division Pool were dumped out of the cup by 13th-placed Division One outfit Featherstone Colliery.
Travelling Featherstone, who started slowly in their league campaign, won 3-2 to secure two cup wins in as many weeks and three victories on the bounce.
Pool were the only top flight team to miss out on qualification for the next round. Bottom placed Wetherby Athletic took the opportunity to take some respite from their torrid league campaign by beating Halifax & District League outfit AFC Crossleys. In a match they were expected to win, Wetherby didn’t have everything their own way and survived a penalty miss at 2-1 before securing a 3-1 win.
Fellow strugglers Oxenhope Recreation booked their place in the second round by squeezing past Hebden Royd Red Star 2-1, as did Hunslet Club, who beat Ivy House 3-1.
Table-toppers Carlton Athletic made light work of Stanley United, beating them 4-1, whilst Field produced the most eye-catching scoreline of the day, hammering a hapless Morley Town, 15-3.
Sherburn White Rose, who last weekend took advantage of a handful of postponed fixtures to move second in the league, took Berry Brow apart 8-0, Headingley beat Oulton Athletic 4-0 and Leeds City beat Holmfield 9-2.
Beeston St Anthony’s knocked out spirited third division AFC Horsforth, beating them 6-2, Robin Hood Athletic hammered Old Centralians 5-0, whilst Horbury Town put five past Uppermill.
There were two league fixtures in Division One, where Kippax beat the odds to defeat third-placed East End Park and jump to eighth. Otley Town’s struggles showed no signs of easing after a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of fifth-placed Hartshead.
In Division Two, there was nothing to prize apart midtable Welfares Nostell Miners and Kellingley as they drew 2-2, whilst Baildon Trinity Athletic, in ninth, recorded only their second win of the season at still-winless Great Preston.