AFC Blackpool 2 Ilkley 1: Winners forced to tough it out after fast start
Two early goals sealed three points for AFC but it was hard work in the second half at Jepson Way.
Manager Martin Baird brought new signings Chris Churchman and Ryan White straight into the side following their arrival on dual-registration from Bamber Bridge.
Fellow new signing Ethan Van-Aston, who arrived from Prescot Cables, started on the bench.
AFC made a fast start as Jacob Gregory and Ryan White looked dangerous down the left.
The opening goal came through Brendan O’Brien in the eighth minute, when a scramble in the box was not cleared and the defender pounced.
Just two minutes later and AFC added a second. Keeper Dan Hall's goal-kick found James Hughes on the right and his low ball into the box was bundled in by Gregory.
Winger Gregory collected another long goal-kick from Hall and cut into the box but this time his low shot was easily saved.
Ryan White threaded a lovely ball through the Ilkley defence to find the run of John-Jo Morris on 23 minutes but his curling shot was also saved by the keeper.
Winger Hughes fired wide on the half-hour after Chris Churchman's clearance set up an AFC counter-attack.
Gregory was twice more denied by the alert keeper, following clever balls over the top from Oscar Radcliffe and then Hughes, as half-time arrived with Blackpool 2-0 up.
The visitors came close just a minute into the second half with a snapshot from outside the box. AFC's Radcliffe had the same idea but again the Ilkley keeper was equal to it.
The visitors found a way back into the game on 55 minutes, when a cross from the left resulted in a close-range tap-in for striker Kevin Gonzalez.
Baird introduced Joe Robinson and debutant Van-Aston from the bench and the latter almost registered an assist with one of his first touches, though his quality corner was not converted..
A cross from the left was headed wide by Ilkley - their best chance of an equaliser – then the Yorshire club's keeper saved superbly to deny O'Brien a second amid a succession of AFC corners.
Finally, Robinson could only find the roof of the net with a clever flick from Van-Aston's corner.
On a day when the other leading clubs in North West Counties first division north were in FA Vase action, the victory lifted AFC to third, behind Golcar United and Bury AFC on goal difference from two matches more.
AFC: Hall, Bishop, O’Brien, Brooke, White, Churchman, Radcliffe, Morris, Gregory, McKenna, Hughes. Subs: Buchan, McLean, Van-Aston, Simmons.
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