Ilkley Town 1-3 FC Halifax Town: Shaymen ease into next round of West Riding County Cup
FC Halifax Town progressed serenely into the second round of the West Riding County Cup with a 3-1 win at Ilkley Town.
First-teamers Tom Scott, Javid Swaby-Neavin, Tom Bradbury, Jamie Allen and Gerry McDonagh all started for The Shaymen, who were a class apart during a dominant first-half before a more even contest after the interval.
Five corners in the first 10 minutes was an indication of Halifax's dominance from the off, and from Frankie Sinfield's cross, captain-for-the-night Bradbury rose highest to head in.
A minute later, Ben Darby's shot from near the penalty spot was saved by keeper Callum Gladding before Gerry McDonagh, who had two early efforts go close, then had a low shot across goal tipped behind.
Young centre-back Musab Aliyu and young midfielder Sam Essien had stood out for Town, both were tenacious and combative, and looked eager to impress. And Essien got the goal his performance deserved after 36 minutes with a well-struck low effort from just inside the box.
After the impressive Sinfield, a waspish winger, lively on the ball playing on the left of a front three, was fouled inside the box, Allen then made it 3-0 shortly before half-time, at which point the second-half looked a formality.
Scott had only been given one shot to save by the interval, with Halifax in complete control.
Communication from senior players like Bradbury and Allen was good, talking the younger players through the game, and the attitude of the National League side was bang-on, running well off the ball, crunching into tackles and pressing strongly.
There was some attractive football too, some nice touches and stylish play as the youngsters took their chance to show what they could do.
Halifax's better quality shone through, their better close control, link-up play and pace were obvious, but Ilkley stuck at it and came more into the game more after the break as Town came off the pace a little.
The North West Counties League Division One North side deserved a goal for their spirited efforts, and hit the post from an angle inside the box before Tom Smith's effort was saved by Scott.
The intensity which had earned Halifax their comfortable lead wasn't there in a more incident-free second-half, but Ilkley competed well and so nearly got a consolation goal seven minutes from the end when Harry Brown's long-range strike cracked off the post.
But Ilkley's reward for their perseverance arrived two minutes from the end when substitute Kevin Gonzalez kept his cool to finish low into the net one-on-one with Scott.
Ilkley: Gladding, Heaton, Smith, Nightingale, Swift, Pearson (Parker 62), Smith (Lowe 81), Brown, Hughes (Gonzalez 54), Fleming, Gomersall. Subs not used: Hewitt.
Scorer: Gonzalez (88)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 11
Halifax: Scott, Unaitowicz (Day 60), Swaby-Neavin, Bradbury, Aliyu (Taylor 81), Essien (Schofield 60), Darby, Cox, Allen, Sinfield (Donker 69), McDonagh. Subs not used: Haley.
Scorers: Bradbury (11), Essien (36), Allen (41)
Shots on target: 8
Shots off target: 9
Referee: Darius Bradley
Town man of the match: Essien and Aliyu both stood out among the Town youngsters, but Sinfield takes the nod for his display down the left, his willingness to run with the ball and his confidence in possession.