Cleethorpes Town 2 Carlton Town 2
OWLS HELD BUT UNBEATEN RUN NOW TEN!
The Owls returned to Bradley for the first time in just over a month with a game against Nottingham-based Carlton Town. The clubs have met once before when a last-minute strike from Brody Robertson helped overturn a 2-goal deficit to record a memorable 3-2 triumph in an FA Cup qualifier in September 2014.
Coincidentally, it was a similar story on Saturday at Romulus. The only difference this time being that it was captain Alex Flett who completed the turnaround. A much-needed three points and it stretched the unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions.
The Millers have endured a stop-start league campaign, with numerous postponements, and are sitting too close to the relegation zone for comfort. A few positive results are still needed to extend their stay in the division to a twelfth season.
There were four changes for the Owls from Saturday’s starting XI, with Jack Richardson, Andy Taylor, Marc Cooper and Loz McKay coming in for Matt Bloomer, Liam Davis, Danny North and Jon Oglesby respectively. The management team also elected for a 4-4-2 formation.
The match got underway on a heavy pitch in still conditions. All the home faithful were grateful to the staff at Bradley Football Development Centre for their hard work in ensuring the fixture went ahead, despite the large amount of recent rain on the Lincolnshire coast.
Clee were first on the attack when Cooper very nearly got clear but it was Carlton who took the lead in the 4th minute. A ball over the top of the defence was latched onto by Jordan Wilson, who rocketed a shot across home keeper Johnny Saltmer into the far corner. A fine finish and just the start the visitors were looking for. They continued to dominate the early stages with their direct style as the Owls struggled for fluency.
The Millers certainly did not look like a bottom six side and went close to doubling their advantage when Niall Davy fired just over after good work on the left by goalscorer Wilson. The home side sparked into life after a mazy run by McKay but his low cross was deflected for a corner.
Robertson beat the offside trap on the half-hour but Jack Steggles was quickly off his line to deal with the danger. However, they did not heed the warning as five minutes later Clee drew level. A perfect through ball by Richardson found the late run of the dangerous striker, who kept cool to finish well via the post.
The Owls dominated the remaining period and went very close to going in ahead. In the final minute of the half, a fast interchange between strike pair Cooper and Robertson pinpointed Taylor in space but his hard shot was beaten away by Steggles.
HT Cleethorpes Town 1 (Robertson 35) Carlton Town 1 (Wilson 4)
Clee started the half positively and were rewarded with a second goal in the 51st minute. Excellent skill on the flank by Robertson allowed him to skim the ball across the face of goal, where it was met by Tim Lowe. The defender had intelligently got forward and arrived unmarked to fire the Owls ahead.
Lowe’s first goal since the game at Spalding back in August and it was a welcome strike for the popular full-back. However, if the home side thought that the floodgates would open, they were mistaken as substitute Kaylum Mitchell almost equalised for the Millers on 58 minutes.
Oglesby was introduced on the wing after an hour to replace Peter Winn, with McKay now operating at left-back. Just afterwards, Mark Gray came within inches of finding the decisive goal when he headed over from a corner.
Carlton were still posing a threat and had a big shout for a penalty waved away before they shocked the home side with an equaliser on 70 minutes. A corner from the right was not cleared and Keiran Walker pounced with a nodded finish through a crowd of players from close range.
Danny North and Liam Davis came on as the Owls went in search of another late winner. They replaced Taylor and Richardson as Clee played their final cards.
It was substitute North who nearly provided the inspiration after being found by sponsors’ (Haines Watts Grimsby) man-of-the-match Flett. However, his run was crudely ended by a poor challenge and the resultant free-kick was knocked away by the massed ranks of Carlton’s defence.
Into four minutes of added time and the home team just could not create a clear chance, as the visitors held on for a point to the frustration of the Owls, who appealed for a goal when the ball appeared to have crossed the line.
FT Cleethorpes Town 2 (Robertson 35, Lowe 51) Carlton Town 2 (Wilson 4, Walker 70) Attendance: 178
No question a disappointing result but certainly not terminal to our play-off chances! It shows there really are very few easy fixtures at this level and Carlton deserved their share of the spoils.
Viewing the season as whole, we are continuing to average two points per game (not including the deduction!) and, if we can maintain this trend, I feel 72 points will see us finish in fifth or sixth place. However, we really need the victory at the weekend before nine matches in March, including six away.
Manger Marcus Newell was philosophical afterwards and commented:
“We were not at our best tonight but I am pleased to extend the unbeaten run to ten.
Carlton were very direct and we could probably have managed the game better. However, I am far from despondent and we go again on Saturday when, as always, we will be looking to play our football and get the three points.”
On Saturday (24th – 3pm), we welcome Leek Town to Bradley. The Staffordshire outfit are on the fringes of the play-off zone and it finished goalless after a hard-fought encounter at Harrison Park back in the Autumn. A win would see us move to within three points of the visitors with five games in hand.
After this, it is the much-anticipated re-match against South Shields in the Integro League Cup (Wednesday 28th February – 7.45pm). The FA Vase winners need no introduction to the Clee faithful and are, once again, enjoying a successful season. However, the Owls will be hopeful of a better outcome than at Wembley and the winners will progress into the last 8.
Come along to a home game to show your support for the area’s premier non-league side – you can be sure of a warm welcome!
UP THE OWLS!