CARLTON TOWN 2-3 BASFORD UTD - MATCH REPORT
For the second time in 48 hours Carlton Town threw away a lead to concede a late winner against high-flying opposition.
On Tuesday is was a 3-2 defeat at Alvechurch; tonight it was a 3-2 defeat at home to Basford Utd. The frustrating thing for the Millers is that both defeats should have been avoided, particularly tonight’s where they more than matched the champions-elect for long periods of the game.
Perhaps the difference between those challenging at the top and those near the bottom is fitness; certainly Carlton’s record of conceding very early and very late goals is probably unequalled. Perhaps it’s concentration; two more goals tonight were the result of free headers. Perhaps it’s simply ability, and our assessment of the ability of Carlton Town’s players, which on first blush is superior to the squads of the last three or four seasons, is mistaken.
Whatever, this is a side whose effort cannot be faulted but who simply cannot, for whatever reason, stop their opponents scoring. In 34 league games so far the opposition have scored in 31 of those. Three clean sheets all season, and one of those on the opening day.
This is a statistic that would usually be associated with relegation, and the fact it isn’t is testament to another fact: the Millers have a positive goal difference. Although they continually concede, they don’t concede that many, and when they win they tend to score at least three.
So the ability is there, the effort is certainly there, but something is not quite right, because the team loses too many games it shouldn’t.
Tonight was a classic example. Manager Wayne Scott made three changes to the side which lost at the death at Alvechurch on Tuesday: in came Daniel Fletcher, Jordan Wilson and Niall Davie in place of Darol Lucas, Ben Hutchinson and Mamoke Akaunu.
On the Basford bench was former Carlton Town double player of the year Robert Darkin, a member of the Carlton side that once kept seven clean sheets in succession, a club record at step 4.
In an even start Basford went close when Jack Steggles made a fine save from Liam Hearn, while at the other end Dominic Roma cleared off the line from Wilson after the striker took advantage of Basford reserve goalkeeper Colin Lewis.
Rice Bertram saw a fierce shot deflected over the bar after a fine cross by Louis Danquah and soon after Danquah was involved in a lovely bit of interplay with Davie, with Davie chipping just over the crossbar.
Tyler Blake went closest to scoring in the opening half for the home side side, but after he beat Deon Meikle, his shot hit Lewis’s leg and was cleared.
Against the run of play Basford opened the scoring on 39 minutes. Duffy shoved Betram out of the way and had a free header from a corner to put the visitors in front.
Carlton responded six minutes into the second half in magnificent fashion. Danny Elliott and Kieran Walker combined to feed Bertram. His fine cross was met by a superb header from Blake which flew over Lewis and into the net.
The Millers were ahead two minutes later. Elliott held up a ball played to the edge of the box and Blake fired home from the edge of the area.
Basford pushed forward but Carlton looked comfortable and were seeking a third goal when the visitors equalised on 76 minutes. United broke quickly from a Carlton attack and a deep cross from the left saw Liam Hearn fire home at the back post.
The game edged towards stoppage time with neither side having any clear chances. Courey Grantham headed over from a good position as the game went beyond the 90th minute before Carlton found themselves in a two-on-one attack.
Akaunu tried to free Blake but the visitors managed to clear and the ball ended up in midfield. There seemed little danger but Betram was penalised for diving in unnecessarily and when the resultant free kick wasn’t properly cleared, Kieran Fenton headed home the follow-up cross.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Baldwin, Fletcher, Bertram, Danquah, Walker, Mitchell, Elliott (Akaunu 82), Wilson, Blake, Davie. Unused substitutes: B Hutchinson, Wallace, T Hutchinson
Goals: Blake 51, 53; Robert Duffy 39, Liam Hearn 76, Kieran Fenton 90
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Riece Bertram