SUPER MARSHALL HELPS MILLERS TO VICTORY
Goals from Neil Grayson and Terry Hawkridge kept alive Carlton Town’s promotion hopes in a 2-0 win over Sutton Coldfield Town.
But the Millers had to be thankful to a man of the match performance from goalkeeper Danny Marshall who kept a strong visiting side at bay with a string of top class saves.
Les McJannet named the same starting eleven as in the win against Barwell on Saturday as Josh Thornton recovered from the injury which saw him taken off after only half an hour in that game.
Carlton began sharply with Lavell White bursting through after only 30 seconds before being thwarted by Royals keeper Karl Lewis.
But it was Sutton Coldfield, who knew that a win would put them into the top five, who controlled the opening period of the game. Danny Marshall made the first, and perhaps the best, of a number of fine stops after just five minutes, palming away a point blank effort from Craig Marshall and then recovering to save a follow up effort low down at his near post.
The Millers keeper was caught out of his goal soon after and was grateful to Josh Thornton for heading clear as Sutton looked to score.
In what was a tight game the Royals looked to be getting the upper hand but the Millers fought back and Massiah McDonald did well to beat his defender and get a shot in which was saved by Lewis. As Curtis Shaw looked to slot home the rebound, the referee blew for an earlier foul.
Carlton took the lead against the run of play on 32 minutes. Curtis Shaw delivered a fine free kick and Neil Grayson got in front of his man to head home superbly from 12 yards leaving Lewis with no chance.
The goal was the catalyst for Carlton to lift their game and they spent the rest of the half pinning the visitors back, looking for a second goal. Hawkridge played a ball to Nick Hall whose driven cross was tipped into the air by Lewis leaving Grayson to try an audacious overhead kick which was cleared for a corner.
Sutton fought back and from a 40th minute free-kick, centre-half Edward Booth headed just over.
It was then the Millers turn to respond, as the best move of the game saw Hall knock the ball back to Marshall who played it to McDonald. He found Hawkridge who laid it off to Shaw who fed Hall who hit a fine effort from 20 yards which was well saved by Lewis.
Back came the Royals and Marshall had to be alert to save well from James Quiggin, before Carlton went forward and Lewis made a splendid stop from a Grayson header.
From the resultant corner Hall headed to Hawkridge who saw his goal-bound effort cleared off the line.
There was still time for Sutton’s Mark Bellingham to get goal-side of Darkin and bring out a fine save from Marshall as he fired in a shot from close range.
In the second period it was more of the same as first Carlton attacked with Thornton firing in an effort from 25 yards. Shortly afterwards Hawkridge took advantage of poor defending and crossed to Grayson whose effort lacked sufficient power to trouble the keeper.
On 58 minutes the Millers had a good shout for a penalty when a Sutton defender handled the ball in the area. The referee turned it down and the Royals broke, only to be stopped by a fine tackle by Ryan Goward. That led to a Carlton attack and McDonald’s excellent cross was just over the head of the onrushing Grayson.
McDonald was back in the action soon after when he pounced on a trumpet-induced poor goal kick to put the ball just wide.
Still Sutton came back and on 65 minutes Marshall made a rare mistake, coming for an missing a high ball, leaving captain Ashley Kitchen to clear off his own goal line with a spectacular overhead kick.
Craig Marshall then shot wide from close range as Sutton looked to get an equaliser.
McDonald then won the ball well on the left hand side before crossing to Shaw whose flicked effort was saved by Lewis.
McDonald again won the ball, this time on the right hand side, before beating his man with aplomb before crossing to Grayson who shot was again saved.
Back came Sutton Coldfield, and Marshall had to save well at his near post and again from the following corner. The visitors must have known they simply weren’t going to score on 83 minutes when Quiggin planted a bullet header goalwards, only to see Marshall superbly tip it over the bar.
McJannet brought on Steve Chaplin for Grayson with six minutes to go and Chaplin almost scored immediately, seeing an effort hit the post.
With time running out Theo Smith came on for Massiah McDonald and in the fourth minute of stoppage time he headed forward to allow Terry Hawkridge to run clear. Hawkridge turned his fullback inside out before firing a cracking shot across the keeper and into the bottom corner of the net to spark scenes of jubilation on the terraces and indeed on the pitch, as all 10 outfield players came to congratulate him.
The win keeps alive Carlton’s slim playoff hopes, as well as denting those of Sutton Coldfield, who will leave the Bill feeling that but for Danny Marshall they would have had at least a point.
Carlton Town: Marshall, Thorton, Goward, Kitchen, Darkin, Shaw, Hall, Hawkridge, McDonald (sub Smith 90), Grayson (sub Chaplin 84), White. Unused substitutes: Fletcher, Hollis, Clarke.
Goals: Grayson 32, Hawkridge 90.
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Danny Marshall