TEN MAN MILLERS SUFFER LATE DEFEAT
An injury time goal from Daniel Wisdom condemned ten-man Carlton to a 2-1 defeat at home to Northwich Victoria on the last day of the season.
The defeat leaves the Millers with a final position of 12th in the First Division South, but with the bonus of Notts Senior Cup to make the season a success overall.
Les McJannet was forced to continue with centre-half Grant Brindley in goal. Both Rob Darkin and Corey Nightingale picked up injuries in the cup final, so Ryan Whitehurst and Lee McAnulty returned to the starting eleven.
Carlton began well and Josh Thornton saw a second minute effort cleared off the line by Ben Ashcroft.
The Vics then pushed forward and Ashcroft fired just over from 25 yards.
Luke Smithson then chased down a through ball. He almost scored himself, and when the loose ball fell to Blair Anderson goalkeeper Steve Dickinson made an excellent save.
Carlton took the lead in controversial circumstances on 32 minutes. Anderson’s cross was headed goalwards by Julian Topliss onto the arm of Ashcroft. The referee initially appeared to signal no penalty, but the linesman was certain of the handball and the referee awarded the spot kick. With usual penalty taker Matt Varley suspended, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas stepped up to score goal number 26 for the season, his first from the penalty spot.
Dean Gent then played a lovely pass through to Wiggins-Thomas and the striker beat two defenders before Dickinson came out quickly to block.
As half time approached Daniel Fletcher won the ball off Josh Amis and the Millers advanced with a move involving Thornton, Anderson and Wiggins-Thomas. The latter delivered a lovely cross, met by Topliss at the far post, but Jack Duggan managed to put the ball out for a corner.
Brindley had been largely untroubled in the first half but Northwich improved after the break and the stand-in goalkeeper made a decent save from substitute Scott Harries on 50 minutes.
The game was turned on its head in a five minute spell mid-way through the half.
Firstly, the Vics levelled just before the hour mark. Alex Taylor picked the ball up in midfield and advanced down the left hand side. He hit a powerful shot which beat Brindley at his near post.
Two minutes later Anderson went down under challenge from Duggan and Ricky Mercer. The referee waved away his claims for a penalty, much to his disgust. He was clearly still upset by this when he got involved in a confrontation with Duggan a couple of minutes later. There was a headbutt motion from Anderson and he was sent off.
Despite this, the game was fairly even with little in the way of clear chances. Wiggins-Thomas outpaced Joe Bunney and pulled the ball back to Topliss, who set up Wes Henry, but the substitute’s first touch was too heavy and the chance went.
Brindley was out quickly to block after Taylor put Michael Clarke through, but with four minutes remaining the Vics had a fantastic chance to take the points. Bunney’s poor first touch forced him wide on the right, but he cut inside and drew a foul from Thornton. There was no arguing with the penalty award, but Bunney’s spot kick was saved by Brindley.
There remained time for a sting in the tail. With the match in the second minute of stoppage time Taylor crossed from the right and Danny Wisdom rose to head home and win the game.
Carlton Town: Brindley, Whitehurst (Henry 76), Thornton, Fletcher, McAnulty, Smithson, Gent, Troke (Clarke 89), Anderson, Wiggins-Thomas, Topliss. Unused substitute: Kearney.
Goal: Wiggins-Thomas 32 pen
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Grant Brindley.