Carlton Town 1 Cleethorpes Town 1
LATE PENALTY DENIES OWLS
Another evening away game for Clee, as the final week of the season was reached with still four fixtures to play. Play-off hopes were hanging by a thread, so a win against Carlton Town was essential to prolong the dream. It had finished 2-2 against the Millers at Bradley, with goals from Brody Robertson and Tim Lowe.
No surprise that there was more squad rotation and the Owls lined-up on the eastern outskirts of Nottingham in the following 4-4-2 formation:
Goalkeeper: David Birch
Defence: Josh Lacey, Matt Bloomer, Oli Donald, Loz McKay
Midfield: Curtis Bateson, Jack Richardson, Alex Flett (c), Jon Oglesby
Attack: Marc Cooper, Luke Aldrich
It was chilly as the encounter got underway and there was a strong wind blowing directly down the pitch, in Clee’s favour during the opening half. Both sides found it hard to adapt to conditions early on and numerous balls disappeared into the bushes on the far side of the stadium.
Tyler Blake was looking particularly lively for the home side but it was the visitors who came close in the 12th minute when, after a typical fast break, Bateson shot narrowly over. This was followed by defender Bloomer getting well forward to loop a header a yard too high.
The Owls were starting to get on top and Cooper did well but his effort was deflected away. The referee was not helping the flow of the game with numerous free-kicks but, from one of these dead ball situations in the 32nd minute, captain Flett curled off-target.
The opening 45 concluded with more pressure but the Millers resisted all Clee’s attempts to break the deadlock and we went in goalless.
HT Carlton Town 0 Cleethorpes Town 0
The travelling fans only had to wait four minutes after the break for the breakthrough to arrive.
Young Aldrich, who had played well with his positive approach, burst into the box through the inside left. His run was ended by a clumsy challenge and it was an easy decision for the official to point to the spot. Bateson stepped-up but home keeper Jack Steggles dived to his left to parry. Fortunately, the Clee midfielder was alert and buried the rebound.
It was no more than the visitors deserved and the Owls now enjoyed their best spell of the game.
Flett went close with a nicely worked free-kick routine and Cooper was near after finding a spot of space. Then came a brilliant through ball from Oglesby, which pinpointed the run of Aldrich. He took it in his stride and got away a stinging low drive, which looked sure to double the lead. However, keeper Steggles somehow reacted to fling his left boot at the shot and deflect it behind.
Tyler had a fine opportunity to equalise for Carlton with 15 left on the clock when he got between central defenders Bloomer and Donald but the ball bounced off his thigh through to Birch, who had not had a serious save to make thus far.
A triple substitution in the 77th minute saw Danny North, Brody Robertson and Liam Davis all come on to replace Cooper, Aldrich and Richardson respectively.
The Owls set about making the points safe, with the newly introduced substitutes causing havoc in the tiring home defence. Play was now stretched and, following good work from North, his strike partner Robertson agonisingly skimmed the top of the crossbar.
For all their endeavour and commitment, the lack of a second goal proved costly as Clee were caught by a sucker-punch with 4 minutes to go.
The ball came in on the left and a striker went over Flett’s outstretched leg. Despite protests, a penalty was awarded for the Millers. Tyler, who had been Carlton’s biggest threat, confidently hit high into the net to ensure his side claimed a share of the spoils.
FT Carlton Town 1 (Tyler 86 pen) Cleethorpes Town 1 (Bateson 49) Attendance: 80
So, the play-offs are finally out of reach but another good away performance from the Owls! We could (and probably should) have been well ahead by the time of their penalty. Too far away to have a clear view but, judging by our protests, it must have been somewhat controversial…
Been exceptionally impressed by everyone’s attitude in this run of 5 games in 8 days. Clever management has kept the squad pretty fresh and optimism should be high for a promotion bid next campaign.
On to our final 2 home games at Bradley. Tonight (Tuesday – 7.45pm), we welcome neighbours Lincoln United and then on Thursday (7.45pm), it is a visit from champions Basford United.
As always, all support will be most welcome – the lads deserve it!
UP THE OWLS!