CARLTON TOWN 2-2 FRICKLEY ATHLETIC
Carlton Town surrendered a two goal lead as they drew 2-2 with Frickley Athletic at Stoke Lane.
The Millers will take some consolation from the fact that the draw ended their losing run. They will reflect on the fact they played some fantastic football, and Jordan Wilson and Wilfried Gnahore in particular combined very well up front. They will also cite the outstanding performance of Frickley goalkeeper Sebastian Malkowski, whose multiple stunning saves illustrated why he has a senior international cap for Poland amongst his palmares, as the primary reason why they didn’t leave the pitch with three points.
Certainly these observations are true, and this was undoubtedly the best display of the season in terms of the quality of the football. But all of the above notwithstanding, there were two basic reasons why Carlton didn’t win – an inability to take golden opportunities and an inability to keep clean sheets. The fact is that Carlton were 2-0 ahead with less than 40 minutes remaining in a game they were in total control of and yet they still failed to win. The reasons behind that failure, a fifth game without victory, need to be addressed if the club is to climb out of the bottom six, where it once again finds itself.
Manager Wayne Scott made three changes to the side which lost at Belper. In came Eddie Schoenecker, Wilson and Gnahore. Out went Jake Carlisle, Harry Gibbons and Aaron Hooton.
Before the game there was a presentation to the family of Brahima Ceesay, the young Academy player who so tragically died recently. There was also a minute’s silence for Paul Shelton.
On a pitch that continues to dazzle Carlton began this first ever meeting between the sides on the front foot. In just the third minute Wilson headed against the post from a corner in a sign of things to come.
Wilson then crossed to Gnahore whose shot drew an excellent save from Malkowski.
Frickley’s only real chance of the first half came on 15 minutes when Gavin Allott fired wide after a cross from the left.
Otherwise it was all Carlton as they looked solid at the back and moved the ball with zip around the pitch, constantly getting in behind the Blues defence.
On 21 minutes Malkowski made perhaps his finest save of the game, getting a hand to a trademark Danny Gordon thunderbolt free kick and somehow palming it away.
The keeper then almost cost his side a goal as he tried to take the ball past Wilson in the penalty area. Gnahore nipped in to dispossess him but found the angle too tight to score.
With seven minutes remaining in the first half Gordon and Wilson missed the best chance of the game so far. A lovely ball by Danny Elliott sent Wilson away down the right. He cut into the area and looked set to shoot but instead played the ball across the face of goal to Gordon who looked certain the score. But the player whose left foot is perhaps the best in the league scuffed his shot and Malkowski was somehow able to keep the ball out of the goal. The ball fell to Wilson who fired wide from six yards.
Kieran Walker then headed a Kaylum Mitchell corner over the bar before Carlton finally got the goal their play deserved in first half added time. Gnahore, having an excellent game, advanced down the left into the area before squaring for Wilson to steer the ball into the corner of the net.
The Millers began the second period in much the same manner with Gnahore back-heeling to Wilson whose shot brought a save just 15 seconds after the restart.
Wilson fired another effort just wide of the post with Malkowski beaten before the Millers doubled their lead on 50 minutes. Wilson, enjoying his best game of the season, threaded the ball through for Gnahore. He ran past Malkowski who brought him down for a penalty. The referee elected to show him the yellow rather than red card which was probably the correct decision, although Darol Lucas’s red at Lincoln Utd this year was for preventing no more of a goalscoring opportunity. As it was, Gnahore got up and fired home confidently from 12 yards.
The one chance in the first half apart, the visitors had been totally outplayed up to this point but showed commendable resolve in going on the attack and pulling a goal back immediately. Jack Steggles’s goal kick was won by the visitors who attacked into space down their right. Jack Burton picked up the ball and fired past Steggles into the net.
Jacob Hazel then ran through the Carlton defence and fired across goal as Carlton lost their shape.
Back at the other end Wilson crossed for Gnahore to head over the bar, before Malkowski made yet another save, this time from a Gordon header.
The visitors equalised on 69 minutes when Steggles stayed on his line following a corner and Xazel stabbed home from close range.
Carlton responded and Gnahore ran through on goal but curled the ball wide of the post with only Malkowski to beat.
The striker then played some lovely football on the left before feeding Wilson who ran clean through on goal but he hit his shot against Malkowski’s outstretched ankle and the ball flew over the bar. The amount of clear chances Carlton were creating was outstanding – the amount they were missing was farcical.
There was still time for another chance and another save in injury time. Gnahore’s cross was met by a powerful Wilson header, only for Malkowski to make yet another stunning save.
The keeper played a full international for Poland against Lithuania as recently as 2011 and was last season voted Frickey’s player of the year in a side which was relegated. Both facts were evident in a quite outstanding performance tonight but, that said, Carlton still left the pitch not quite understanding how they hadn’t won this game by at least four goals.
Carlton Town: Steggles, McNicholas, Fletcher, Schoenecker (Mutibvu 62), Bertram, Walker, Mitchell, Elliott (Carlisle 78), Wilson, Gnahore, Gordon (Akaunu 85). Unused substitutes: Gibbons, Faflik
Goals: Jordan Wilson 45, Wilfried Gnahore 50 (pen); Jack Burton 52, Jacob Hazel 69
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Wilfried Gnahore