Back-to-back cup defeats are a minor setback in a journey that will see Ilkley Town make the transition to semi-professional football in the coming years.
That is the hope of the club’s hierarchy, who are celebrating the implementation of a state-of-the-art 3G playing facility that represents the latest milestone in a steep upward curve for the club.
“I’d love us to be playing semi-pro,” said club chairman and stalwart Richard Giles.
“If we can get up to step five or step four that would be fantastic.
“My dream would be for us to get into the FA Cup first round. I’d be a happy man if we could get to that standard.
“It’s one step at a time. This is our second season in the Premier Division and we’re still at the consolidation stage, but we’ve shown this season that we can compete at the top end of that division.
“We need to consolidate and take a look at the next step, which is the North East Counties.
“In the medium-term, it’s an ambition that we’ve got, but for now it’s about consolidation and making sure we can compete and be successful if we do jump up a step.”
Having been shocked by third-tier Otley Town in the Wharfedale Cup earlier in the month, they crashed out of the League Cup on Saturday in a 2-0 defeat to reigning champions Carlton and had two men sent off in the process.
The league’s surprise package sit second in the table, and with the likes of skipper Danny Bott, Toby Harris and league top scorer Lee Spires hitting their straps, they intend to stay there.
“We started the season with the aim of finishing in the top half,” added Giles.
“I think that’s changed, we’ve seen that we can challenge with the top teams, including Carlton. If we can finish in the top four that would be a good achievement.”
Any recent struggles on the field pale into insignificance for Giles, who beams whenever the £300,000 all-weather playing facility is mentioned.
“It’s taken four years to get to this point. To see it being used a week ago, with 250 people playing on it makes us delighted.
“A lot of people put a lot of effort in and it’s just amazing really.
“We want to get more people playing football from the local community.
“We’ve got 30 teams playing from six years old up to veterans, including boys, girls, ladies and men so it really is all about the community. That’s what we’re doing it for.”
There were no major upsets in the seven other League Cup fixtures this weekend.
All the Premier Division sides went through aside from Field, who were on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat to Robin Hood Athletic.
Bottom side Sherburn White Rose sidestepped a potential banana skin by beating second-tier strugglers Altofts 3-1.
Some predicted an upset for Whitkirk over Hartshead, but it was the Premier Division side who won out on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Leeds City were too strong for Ripon City and won 7-1, while table-topping Beeston St Anthony’s edged out Pool 2-1.
Hall Green United beat third-tier Swillington Saints 3-0 and Shelley fell to their second consecutive defeat in a 1-0 reverse to Horbury Town.
Headingley’s match against Hunslet was postponed, making Huddersfield Amateur’s clash with Knaresborough Town the only league fixture of the day.
And it was the Huddersfield side who took the opportunity to leapfrog their opponents and catapult themselves into seventh with a 3-2 win thanks to goals by Mike Hall, Matthew Parker and Jacob Driver.
Division Two Kirk Deighton Rangers are looking forward to mixing it with the big boys after confirming their place in the next round of the West Yorkshire League Cup on Saturday, writes ALEX MILLER.
They beat Kellingley Welfare 2-1 on Saturday to take their place in the pot alongside the likes of Carlton, Beeston St Anthony’s and Leeds City. Their manager Dan Marshall is hoping for a day out at one of the league’s big names, but asserts that they’re not in the next round just to make up the numbers.
“We’re hopeful of an away day at a Premier Division side,” said Marshall. “We beat Leeds Mods from the division above us in the last round and were knocked out by Boroughbridge in our district cup in a game we could’ve won.
“It would be great to pit our wits against those very top sides and see how we fare. We’ve got a strong squad with a few injuries and by the time the next round comes around we should have everybody available and fit.
“If we turn up ready and on the money we’ll give anyone a match.”
Another third tier side in the next round are second-bottom Baildon Trinity Athletic, who produced an upset to edge their way past Hampsthwaite United 2-1.
The only other non-Premier Division side to make it through was fifth-placed Division One side Boroughbridge, who hammered Kippax 5-0, and they’ll be joined by either of the division’s top-six contenders Wyke Wanderers or Wetherby Athletic, who were postponed.
There were three Division One league fixtures played out, the most notable being Featherstone Colliery’s 8-2 thrashing of seventh-placed East End Park.
The win keeps the home side unbeaten in ten in a run that has seen them score 18 goals in their last three games.
They remain in pursuit of table-topping Rawdon Old Boys, however, who smashed Rothwell 4-1.
Farther down the table there was a 6-1 win for Aberford Albion over the ever-sliding Leeds Modernians.
And there were goals aplenty in the bottom tier’s solitary league fixture, where Knaresborough Celtic, in third, beat struggling Old Centralians 6-3.