Leaders Ilkeston edge Ath challenge

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Bedford Athletic 8 Ilkeston 20

Bedford Athletic came up just short against Midlands One East leaders Ilkeston on Saturday as they went down to a 20-8 at Putnoe Woods.

A close contest went the way of the visitors by three tries to one as their experience showed in taking the try-scoring opportunities that came their way. The home side started brightly and fashioned a number of scoring chances in the opening minutes.

A driving maul was illegally pulled down as it cantered toward the line and then the ball was spread wide through the backs for Tommy Mills to score in the corner only for the visiting touch judge to deem that some part of him was out of play as the try was disallowed. A missed James Mortimer penalty was therefore all Ath had to show for a quarter of an hour’s pressure.

Ilkeston then demonstrated why they are top of the league as they spread the ball wide for winger Lewis Taylor to score the opening try on 16 minutes.

This knocked the stuffing out of Ath as they struggled to execute their gameplan and put sufficient pressure on the visitors.

Centre Dan Taylor’s break saw Ilkeston apply more pressure and, after camping on Ath’s line, winger Greg Taylor crashed through to score a second try on 32 minutes.

Joel Haigh converted but Ath did get on the board before half time, but Mortimer’s penalty was cancelled out by Haigh’s effort as Ilkeston led 15-3 at the break.

Determined Bedford forced Ilkeston on to the back foot at the start of the second half and, after a string of penalties, Matthew Watkins was sin-binned.

A catch-and-drive move resulted in an unconverted try for Stuart Polson with half an hour to play but, with defences on top, Ath were forced to play from deep.

With 10 minutes to go Mortimer broke through but his pass went to ground and the opportunity was lost.

And Ilkeston had the final say in the game as they broke upfield and launched Taylor down the wing once more and he crashed over despite seemingly putting a foot in touch, as Ilkeston sealed victory with the unconverted try.

Fourth-place Ath and are on the road this Saturday as they travel to Newark.