MILLERS HELD BY RUSHALL
Carlton’s hopes of making the play-offs all but ended as they were held to a goalless draw by fourth-placed Rushall Olympic at the Bill.
Thanks to BRIAN DENNETT for this report.
The Millers had what looked to be a stonewall penalty claim turned down by the referee in second half stoppage time, but the Pics would point to two claims themselves not given, one of which resulted in a yellow card for diving.
Les McJannet was forced into one change from the side which beat Sutton Coldfield last time out, as Massiah McDonald was beginning a three game suspension. Theo Smith started up front in his place.
Carlton were gifted an opening in the very first minute, when Rushall keeper Gemmell mis-kicked his clearance but his defence were able to get the ball away at the expense of a corner.
The Pics rallied to put the home defence under a certain amount of pressure within the first ten minutes, with Lennon posing problems down Carlton's right.
Carlton then created an opening, when a quick throw out by Marshall to Smith was fed to Terry Hawkridge on the edge of the area. His cross to the far post was headed narrowly wide by Lavell White.
The game had developed into a midfield battle, with both teams guilty of lacking quality in the final third of the pitch. The Pics squandered a number of free kicks and their tactics of hitting high balls to their tall men in the box was at this stage ineffective.
Thornton then did well to take the ball from the feet of Lennon as the forward looked to be clear through on goal.
With very few chances for either side a scrappy first half ended unsurprisingly scoreless.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Ryan Goward had a shot from 22 yards which flew just wide of Gemmell’s right hand post. Carlton came close again to breaking the deadlock when a Hawkridge pass found Thornton, who saw his shot deflected by the boot of Tolley, Gemmell having to scramble across his goal to gather the ball.
Carlton continued to look the side most likely to open the scoring in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, but like in the first 45 minutes a combination of the bone hard surface, a poor final ball and some resolute Olympic defending was proving frustrating for the home fans, hoping to see a third consecutive win.
The Pics went close when a Beckett freekick was headed narrowly wide by Lewis, but the striker was adjudged to have committed an offence in his effort to reach the ball.
Les Mcjannet made a double substitution with eight minutes remaining, bringing off Smith and White and replacing them with Gardner and Hollis. The move almost paid off when Chaplin put Hollis through, Gemmell having to close the striker down and make an excellent save at Hollis’s feet.
Carlton continued to press, and in the final minutes a Goward cross was headed away from Chaplin, at the expense of a corner. The resulting corner was headed tamely into the arms of Gemmell.
A moment later came the game’s most controversial moment when Chaplin sent Shaw clear on goal. The keeper looked favourite to get the ball but was evidently surprised by Shaw’s turn of pace as the Millers man clearly got to the ball first. Gemmell clattered into him, bringing him down within yards of the referee, who to the amazement of all present, including in all probability the goalkeeper, waved away the claims for a spot kick. His decision in the circumstances not book Shaw for diving, particularly in light of the fact that he had already booked a Rushall player for an obvious dive at the other end, appeared somewhat mystifying.
Carlton - Marshall, Thornton, Goward, Darkin, Shaw, Kitchen, Hall, Hawkridge, Grayson (sub Chaplin 70), Smith (sub Hollis 82), White (sub Gardner 82). Unused substitutes: Fletcher, Large.
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Rob Darkin