MILLERS BEAT COALVILLE AND BREAK RECORD
Carlton Town guaranteed a highest ever league finish and home advantage in the playoffs with a 3-1 win at Coalville.
The win, in a competitive game that threatened to boil over at times, came thanks to an early Terry Hawkridge strike and two goals in two minutes midway through the second half from Nick Hall and Sam MacVicar.
But it certainly wasn’t all plain sailing for Carlton as the Ravens pulled one goal back and hit the woodwork four times throughout the match.
Les McJannet named an unchanged side from that which lost at Rainworth last time out, although Tristram Whitman, an unused substitute in that game, had since left the club to join Arnold Town.
In windy conditions it was the Millers who fashioned the first opportunity and scored on six minutes. Reuben Wiggins-Thomas took advantage of some sloppy defending to dart into the penalty area. As he looked to shoot he was tackled but Hawkridge was on hand to pick up the loose ball and chip neatly over Michael Quirke and into the top corner from 18 yards.
Hawkridge then won the ball on the left wing and laid the ball inside to Wiggins-Thomas whose drive from the edge of the box flew just wide.
On 26 minutes Wiggins-Thomas again found himself clean through. Quirke raced to the edge of his area and the former Belper man chipped him. Quirke instinctively put his hand out to save the ball. He looked a good yard outside the area at the time but the linesman saw no infringement and Coalville immediately attacked.
As they pushed forward they hit a shot from the right hand side which struck the base of Andy Richmond’s post. As the rebound fell to Danny Davidson he hit an overhead kick towards the empty net but Richmond was able to recover and save.
On 37 minutes Daniel Fletcher and Hawkridge combined to set up Wiggins-Thomas. The striker once again went past Quirke before being hacked down by him. To the relief of the home side a yellow card was the limit of the punishment.
Coalville had been forced to replace Davidson with Ryan Robbins and Robbins was a handful for the Millers. Just before half time the substitute brought a great save from Richmond and with the half virtually over the Ravens hit the woodwork for a second time when Anthony Carney’s effort came back off the crossbar.
Carlton attacked early in the second half when Fletcher crossed to Wiggins-Thomas who saw the ball cleared as he was about to shoot.
Ashley Wells was then lucky to receive only a yellow card for a dreadful tackle on Hawkridge as the referee struggled to keep the game under control.
Nick Hall also found himself in the referee’s book as Carlton responded with some fierce tackles of their own.
On 52 minutes Karl Demidh whipped in a dangerous free kick which Cameron Powell headed wide from a good position.
That miss was to prove costly for the home side as seven minutes later Carlton doubled their lead. Hawkridge took a corner and Hall leapt above his marker to power a header into Quirke’s goal.
The Millers sealed victory a minute later. Josh Thornton played a neat ball through to Wiggins-Thomas. He turned Thom Kellog who brought him down just inside the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick and Sam MacVicar stroked the ball into Quirke’s bottom right hand corner.
Coalville didn’t give up and gave themselves a lifeline on 63 minutes. Robbins burst through on the right hand side and fired at an angle past Richmond.
Two minutes later he had an excellent chance to pull a second goal back when the ball fell to him from a corner. But with a clear sight of goal he fired wide.
Coalville were pressing and Kitchen and Darkin in the Millers defence were keeping the home side at bay, ably assisted by Fletcher and Asher at full back.
Hall was fouled on 77 minutes leading to a clever Asher free kick which saw Wiggins-Thomas spring clear of a slow-reacting defence. He tried to head over the oncoming Quirke but his effort fell wide of the goal.
Back came the Ravens and from another dangerous cross Powell hit a shot against the bar. Richmond then made a superb save from Robbins before Darkin cleared the follow-up effort off the line.
Kellog then headed against the foot of the post as Carlton held on. Indeed, with the game in injury time Wiggins-Thomas had one final chance to score as he was sent clear but Quirke made a decent save, before Lewis Dodd was just wide with Coalville’s final effort of the game.
Carlton Town: Richmond, Asher, Fletcher, Darkin, Kitchen Naylor, Hall (Kimberley 81), Hawkridge, Thornton (Foster 84), MacVicar (Griffith Junior 61), Wiggins-Thomas. Unused substitutes: Brown, Millns.
Goals: Hawkridge 6, Hall 59, McVicar 61pen
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Rob Darkin