AFTER four months without football, Ilkley Town return to action on Saturday with their first pre-season friendly ahead of the 2020/21 West Yorkshire League Premier Division campaign.

The Baht ‘atters will take on Horsforth St. Margaret’s at Ben Rhydding Sports Club (2pm kick off).

The squad have been training for five weeks, initially with non-contact sessions, until a fortnight ago where contact was introduced following updated guidance from the FA.

Step Seven clubs are planning for the return of league fixtures in September.

Manager Simon Armstrong said: “It has been a long time for the players to be without competitive football. We are excited to be preparing for a game. This is the next step for us.

“We have had a good start to pre-season with the return of all players from last year, plus some additions adding to the competition for places. The boys are determined to prepare in the best possible way.”

Local rivals St. Margaret’s are sure to provide a good test, in the first outing for both teams since lockdown.

Last season, Town came out on top with a 4-1 victory in the Wharfedale Cup. The Horsforth team previously played together at Leeds City, who have had a number of closely contested games with Armstrong’s men in the past.

Ilkley have strengthened the team off the pitch, as well as on it. They have added goalkeeper coach Gavin Phillis, and physios Joe Gannon and Lawrence McGrath to the backroom staff.

This support offered to the players is now at a level expected of semi-professional teams, an indication of where the club is setting its ambitions for the future.

The Town boss added: “Each season we aim to take another step forward. Gavin did some work with the keepers last season and will continue as our specialist this season.

“It is the first time we have provided physios to help players with their recovery and injury prevention. Joe and Lawrence will be great additions to our matchday team.”

The club are also starting their innovative Walk On scheme this weekend. This forms part of the club’s well-being strategy.

Supporters will meet at Ben Rhydding train station and walk about three quarters of a mile to the ground. The walk will reduce the use of cars and provide fans with the advantages of physical exercise and social contact.

Commercial director Paul Wintersgill, who is organising the walk, said: “With very little live sport taking place, Walk On is a great opportunity for people to take in sport on a Saturday afternoon.

“We are able to observe social distancing on the walk and at the ground. We are working with Leeds Mind to promote the benefits to mental health that come from physical exercise and social contact.”

Those who are wishing to join the walk and watch the game should meet at the station ready to set off at 1pm. For more details, email