TOPLISS SHINES AS MILLERS HIT FOUR
Julian Topliss scored a sparkling hatrick as Carlton Town turned in their best display of the season to overwhelm Market Drayton Town 4-1.
Les McJannet’s men were simply to slick for a Drayton side who went into the game on the back of six wins and a draw in their previous eight games. The Millers took advantage of a lovely playing surface and glorious conditions to treat the travelling support to a top draw display of passing football with barely a long ball in sight. The defence were rarely troubled, the midfield controlled possession, and Luke Smithson and Blair Anderson were a constant threat to the home side.
McJannet made four changes to the side which lost at Sheffield last time out. Martin Kearney returned in goal for Jordan Fell, Dean Gent replaced the injured Ryan Whitehurst, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas returned for Wes Henry and with Grant Brindley suspended, Blair Anderson returned with Josh Thornton moving to full back.
Carlton started as they meant to go on and could have taken the lead in just the third minute. Topliss advanced into the Gingerbread Men’s area, rounded goalkeeper Dan Lloyd Weston, but from the angle struck his shot against the crossbar.
Smithson who was such a thorn in the side of left back Matt Johnson that Johnson was replaced on the hour, whipped over a lovely cross which was just missed by Wiggins-Thomas at the far post.
The goal that looked to be coming duly arrived on 17 minutes. Smithson played a superb ball out of defence on the left hand side which saw Wiggins-Thomas beat the offside trap and advance down the wing. The striker hit an early cross which was met first time by Topliss at the far post who converted with aplomb. It was the former Grantham man’s first goal for a couple of months and he looked delighted with it.
Smithson was once again in the thick of things, earning a corner which Alexander Troke delivered to the head of Matt Varley whose effort went just wide.
Market Drayton enjoyed a rare break when Lindon Campbell crossed to Neville Thompson, but the striker headed over from a good position.
Anderson then played a lovely ball to Smithson whose ball to Wiggins-Thomas was cleared by the home defence.
Troke and Gent were controlling things in midfield, but Drayton had a fantastic chance to level on 35 minutes when Rob Stevenson found himself in acres of space on the right hand side. With Thompson alone in the penalty are waiting for the pass, Stevenson’s cross was poor and Carlton were able to clear.
Drayton were having their best spell of the game and Stevenson had a half-chance when he chased a long high ball, but Kearney was out to clear. Matt Varley then missed an attempted clearance and Stevenson, clean through, hit a half-volley wide when he really should have hit the target.
Carlton came out at the start of the second half with renewed vigour. Topliss had a chance to double the lead virtually from the kick off but he elected to pass to an offside Wiggins-Thomas when a shot would have been the better option, as McJannet informed him!
Smithson then beat Johnson again before crossing into the danger area. A headed clearance fell to Topliss whose half-volley was goalbound until it hit Campbell on the back before being cleared.
Varley then delivered a long throw which Corey Nightingale flicked on. When the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, Gent dispossessed Dorryll Proffitt and fired an effort inches wide.
Carlton needed a second goal and it arrived on 52 minutes. Gent closed down Thompson and forced him into a back pass which was hit straight into the air by the goalkeeper and got caught in the wind. Anderson won the ball and sent over a dangerous cross which was cleared by Rhys Swetnam. The ball however only got as far as the edge of the box where it was controlled on his chest by Topliss before the striker swivelled to his a peach of a half-volley into the top corner.
Topliss then played a lovely ball to Smithson whose cross was just missed by Wiggins-Thomas. Anderson picked up the loose ball and fired in a shot which was well-saved by Lloyd Weston.
That was the signal for Market Drayton to make a double substitution, and Proffitt had a chance to reduce the arrears when he burst clear of the Carlton defence. But with Thornton putting the striker under pressure, he blazed over the top.
Carlton pushed forward for the third that would seal victory. On 70 minutes Wiggins-Thomas held the ball up well from a throw-in before firing at goal. Lloyd Weston made a great stop and Anderson was inches away with the follow up.
Within a minute Topliss completed his hatrick. Once again, Wiggins-Thomas held up the ball well, this time playing it off to Gent. Gent’s cross was excellent and Topliss got ahead of his man to fire home from 12 yards.
Four minutes later it was 4-0. Troke his a corenr from the left which the keeper did well to tip away from the advancing Varley. However, Troke then delivered a corner from the other side to just inside the area which Wiggins-Thomas hit on the volley to score a magnificent goal.
Drayton scored a consolation on 83 minutes when Kearney misread a bouncing ball and substitute Martyn Davies held off the attentions of Daniel Fletcher to score.
Varley and Nightingale made a couple of good blocks towards the end as the home side sought a second goal but the Millers had already done more than enough to secure a fine victory.
Carlton Town: Kearney, Thornton, Fletcher, Varley, Nightingale, Smithson, Gent, Troke, Anderson (Gordon 76), Wiggins-Thomas, Topliss (Henry 76). Unused substitutes: McAnulty, Clarke.
Goals: Topliss 17, 52, 71, Wiggins-Thomas 75
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Julian Topliss.