A COURAGEOUS and spirited performance saw Ilkley Town beat a well-disciplined Horbury Town side 2-1 at Ben Rhydding Sports Club on Saturday.

Horbury Town started the game with passion and aggression, pressuring Ilkley and forcing them into mistakes.

Horbury were almost rewarded with an early goal when Mo Sadiq capitalised on a defensive lapse, and was one-on-one with Adam Montague-Millar who was forced to make a great save.

Shortly afterwards, a deflected cross from Horbury almost sneaked its way into the bottom right corner but was just off the target.

Despite being under immense pressure from the energetic visitors, Ilkley’s defence was well organised and managed to keep Horbury at bay, thanks to the leadership of Tom Bull.

Only minutes later, Horbury drove into Ilkley’s penalty box once again, but a goal-saving slide tackle from Alfie Heaton shut the attack down.

Impressively, he got to his feet and orchestrated a counter-attack. Within seconds, Tom Smith had received the ball and dribbled towards goal, but uncharacteristically Smith’s shot was wide of the mark.

Having survived Horbury's intense pressure for the first quarter of the game, Ilkley began to gain a foothold.

Consequently, the game turned into a cagey affair, with numerous yellow cards awarded to both sides.

Ilkley then witnessed a moment of pure genius in the 40th minute, thanks to George Gomersall.

Receiving the ball on the halfway line, he looked up and noticed the keeper fractionally off his line.

Wanting to take advantage of this, Gomersall lobbed the ball, hitting it perfectly so that it flew over the keeper and dipped under the crossbar.

Against the run of play, Ilkley had broken the deadlock with a stunning goal and went into half-time leading 1-0.

However, Ilkley’s lead was shortlived. In the 55th minute, a pass was laid off to Horbury’s Lewis Stephens, who took a first time shot that rocketed towards the bottom opposite corner.

Ilkley remained determined and didn’t let their heads drop; pushing forwards repeatedly and creating numerous chances.

Most noticeable among them were Harry Brown’s powerful shot, which was spilled but eventually saved by the keeper, and a short-range chance by Smith that sent Horbury’s goalkeeper the wrong way. However, he was rescued by a goal-saving block by defender Brad Ball.

Bizarrely, the game was then stopped because of an injury to the referee. He appeared to have cramp, and subsequently limped off the field, leaving the female assistant referee to become the match referee, and Ilkley assistant manager Dave Houlston to take over running the line.

Late into the game, Joe Garside swung in a beautiful free-kick, which was met by substitute Adam Davey.

His bullet header rattled the crossbar, and after a scramble was eventually tapped in by Smith. However, the linesman disallowed the goal for offside.

With only minutes to go, Ben Greenhow was fouled just inside the penalty box, winning a penalty for the home team.

Tom Smith stepped up and made no mistake, his powerful shot nestling in the top left corner.

Ilkley survived a late scare from Horbury, holding on to win their 11th consecutive game.

Despite being their biggest challenge to date, Ilkley came through and retained second position in the league in their push for promotion.