KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC 3-3 CARLTON TOWN - MATCH REPORT
Tyler Blake scored a brace for the second successive game as Carlton Town drew 3-3 at Kidsgrove Athletic.
Romulus’s defeat at Lincoln Utd meant that Carlton would have been safe from relegation whatever the outcome of this game, but the draw at least prevented the Millers falling to a third successive defeat. In reality Wayne Scott’s side will be kicking themselves for not winning having squandered a two goal half-time lead.
Scott made two changes to the team which lost at home to Basford two days earlier. In came Ben Hutchinson and Mamoke Akaunu in place of Jordan Wilson and Kayum Mitchell. Mitchell and Ben Wallace were named as a substitutes but didn’t turn up.
On a bright sunny afternoon Carlton made a flying start. Some lovely passing between Tyler Blake and Ben Hutchinson saw the ball fed sideways to Danny Elliott on the edge of the box. He took it around Dave Parton before calmly knocking it into the open goal in just the sixth minute.
Carlton doubled their lead just four minutes later. Akaunu went on a splendid run down the right holding off Rhys Thompson and captain Leon Ashman before threading a pass to Blake.
Parton rushed out as Blake headed towards the goal line and, from an almost impossible angle, the striker fired past Parton and into the net. Blake tumbled over the barrier into the terracing and received a nasty cut to his arm and some lengthy treatment for his troubles.
At this stage Kidsgrove looked shell-shocked, barely able to play a pass and Carlton were in total control. Their first effort saw Eric Graves fire over after Jack Steggles had saved from Kyle Diskin.
Rumineo Valido-Barai then curled an effort just beyond the post as Athletic sought a way back into the game.
Akaunu saw Parton make another decent save following a good run and shot and the goalkeeper released Thompson quickly. He fed Alex Lingard whose cross found Lee Cropper completely unmarked but the striker headed wide. It was the kind of chance the onlooking Anthony Malbon, out through injury, would have buried without breaking stride.
Hutchinson went agonisingly close, curling just over the bar, after some fine passing from Akaunu, Blake and Elliott.
Next it was Riece Bertram’s turn, with a 25 yard half volley after a one-two with Hutchinson.
The Millers had controlled the majority of the first half with some pass and move football that exposed gaps in the Kidsgrove midfield. As a result they rarely needed to resort to the generally unsuccessful long-ball football which has so often been a feature of their play.
In addition, defensively, the side looked very solid, with Louis Danquah and Kane Baldwin rarely troubled and Kieran Walker and Daniel Fletcher dominating the middle of defence. Bertram, in midfield, was having a very effective game.
Kidsgrove acted at half time and brought on striker Tim Sanders. Carlton seemed to change shape and switch to one up front, presumably to preserve what they had earned. Whatever the reason, the second half couldn’t have been more different to the first.
The Millers should have gone three goals up on 52 minutes. Niall Davie beat two players on the left, cut into the area and looked up to see Hutchinson and Blake waiting. Neither made a move into the space where Davie played the ball and the chance went.
Kidsgrove took full advantage and reduced the deficit immediately, with Sanders firing home from the edge of the box. Steggles seemed to be caught unawares, trying to kick the ball away as it went past him.
The home side levelled six minutes later. A deep free kick from the right was headed across goal to Sanders, who had a free header and made no mistake.
The game had been turned on its head and it was now Kidsgrove who looked the more likely to win. Sanders put an absolute sitter over the bar after a good run and cross by Lingard, before Steggles made a decent save from a Lingard shot.
Carlton weathered the storm and regained the lead on 71 minutes with the best goal of the game. Akaunu and Elliott combined to play Hutchinson just into the area. With defenders surrounding him the ex-Celtic striker cheekily lifted the ball over the Grove defence towards Blake, who hit a magnificent swerving volley into the corner of the net to the delight of the travelling support behind the goal.
Kidsgrove responded and Sanders volley over. Back came Carlton and Akaunu hit the post from the edge of the box after yet more interplay involving Blake and Elliott.
Grove levelled moments later when Cropper fired into the corner of the net unchallenged after the home side had advanced down the right.
The game settled for the final quarter hour. Steggles made another decent save, this time from Ross Davidson, while Hutchinson saw an audacious 40-yard volley held by Parton.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Baldwin, Fletcher, Bertram, Danquah, Walker, Elliott, Davie, Blake, Hutchinson, Akaunu (Wilson 80). Unused substitutes: Oldham
Goals: Elliott 6, Blake 10, 71; Tim Sanders 53, 59, Lee Cropper 74
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Riece Bertram