A storming second half comeback saw Carlton recover a 1-0 deficit to beat Romulus 3-1 at Coles Lane.
It was no more than the Millers deserved in a game which they dominated against an injury-hit Roms outfit. Indeed, only a stellar performance from Roms keeper James Wren kept the score down.
Les McJannet made two changes from the side which beat Quorn last time out. Ian Brown returned in place of the Quorn match-winner Rob Gill and Jermain Hollis returned in favour of Aaron Large.
The Millers were caught cold as Romulus scored in just the second minute. Danny Marshall misjudged a deep cross and when the ball was headed back across goal, Dean Baker was on hand to prod home despite the efforts of Hollis to clear.
To their credit, Carlton just took the game to Romulus who, given the problems they had, were happy to hit long balls up to their tall strikeforce.
Brown was the first to force Wren into a save on seven minutes and Nick Hall then went close with a header. Brwon then tried a spectacular overhead kick which almost paid off and he then linked with Hall to send Jermain Hollis clean through with just the goalkeeper to beat. Unfortunately the Millers wide man trod on the ball and the chance was lost.
Carlton didn’t seem to be having any problems with the artificial surface and indeed Massiah McDonald and Terry Hawkridge were causing chaos in the Romulus defence with their probing runs down the flanks.
The best move of the game brought another excellent stop from Wren as he got down to his near post to save Josh Thornton’s firm strike after the full back had linked up with Hawkridge and Brown.
Better was to come from the keeper as McDonald and Brown combined neatly in first half stoppage time to allow McDonald a fierce shot at goal. Wren managed to divert a wrist into the path of the ball and turn the shot wide.
Into the second half and the game continued in the same vein. A goal had to come and it finally arrived in the 57th minute. Nick Hall headed towards goal from a free kick and in the ensuing scramble Brown saw an effort strike the bar before McDonald forced the ball home from a yard. It was the striker’s third goal in succession and well deserved for an impressive performance on the night.
He almost added to his tally minutes later when he fired just over after a good work by Ryan Goward and Hawkridge.
Hawkridge then saw a shot blocked and Nick Hall followed up and saw his effort cannon off the cross bar.
McDonald then tore down the left hand side and crossed for Brown whose glancing effort was saved by Wren.
McJannet brought on Curtis Shaw and Rob Gill to go for the win but it was Terry Hawkridge who gave the Millers the lead on 73 minutes. He controlled superbly a long ball coming out of the clouds, turned his marker and rifled in an unstoppable shot from 25 yards. The ball cannoned back into play from the back stanchion and initially the referee refused to award the goal. Romulus started to play on whilst the Millers protested, and only the intervention of the linesman in the other half of the pitch saw the goal finally given.
Eight minutes later it was game over as Gill headed home a Shaw corner.
Romulus, as they had all game, continued to put in maximum effort but they struggled to make any headway against an impressive Millers side, who saw out the game in comfort.
Carlton Town: Marshall, Thornton, Fletcher, Kitchen, Darkin, Hollis, Hall, Goward (Shaw 69), Hawkridge, Brown (Gill 69), McDonald (Grayson 83). Unused substitutes: Large, Davis.
Goals: McDonald 57, Hawkridge 73, Gill 81.
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Massiah McDonald