Leek Town got their season off to a winning start after clinching the points with a solitary Matt Haddrell goal just two minutes before the break at Harrison Park on Saturday.
Blues were expecting a good contest against fancied Carlton but honours were fairly even during the opening half although Leek had clear penalty appeals turned down before Haddrell shot them in front.
Leek defended well in the second period and had a second penalty claim denied but the home side finished strongly creating several good chances in the final 10 minutes.
Blues opened the game on the attack and Richard Minor demonstrated good skills and pace to make ground down the left flank before twisting into the box in the 2nd minute but his shot was deflected for a corner.
In the 11th minute Ashley Woolliscroft fired in a free kick and Haddrell rose only to head wide of the far post.
Two minutes later, Christian Millar raced into the box and was tripped from behind as he was about to shoot but the referee waived away the loud appeals.
Carlton responded in the 15th minute with Robert Gill heading down a long ball for Terry Hawkridge but he dragged his shot wide of the target.
In the 19th minute Millar surged forward to set up Haddrell but he pulled his shot wide of the far post.
The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession midway through the half but failed to trouble Danny Roberts until the 25th minute when the Leek keeper pulled off a good save to deny Hawkridge.
Haddrell headed wide again in the 26th minute whilst at the other end, only a great save by Roberts prevented Gill from opening the scoring.
As play swung from end to end Devon Gibson headed wide in the 35th minute whilst Carlton’s Ian Brown headed narrowly wide after a good cross by Jermain Hollis.
However, Leek took the lead in the 43rd minute when the ball was played wide to Minor who crossed into the box where Haddrell was on hand to lash the ball home from 10 yards out.
Carlton almost equalised less than a minute later but when Brown burst forward Darren Tinson saved the day with a superb last ditch challenge on the edge of the box.
The Millers pushed forward early in the second half but Leek defended well with skipper Tinson superbly marshalling the back four.
Six minutes into the half though, a long throw by the Miller’s Ashley Kitchen found the head of Gill but his glancing header flashed inches wide of the back post.
Two minutes later, Woolliscroft drove in a free kick from wide on the right and Mark Fitton was flattened inside the box but again the referee waived away the appeals.
Chances were few and far between midway through the half but Blues came close in the 72nd minute when Haddrell played the ball wide to Michael Thomas who blasted in a shot that almost caught Danny Marshall by surprise as he cleared his lines with an improvised punch.
In the 74th minute, Haddrell scooped a shot into the keeper’s arms and two minutes later the big striker noticed Marshall off his line and tried his luck from 35 yards leaving the keeper to hastily retreat to claim the ball.
Carlton came close to levelling the scores in the 79th minute when Massiah McDonald went on a mazy run to get in a good, angled shot that forced Roberts into a low save.
Blues almost wrapped up the points in the 81st minutes when Dorryl Proffitt got on the end of a ball over the top into the box but twice he had shots charged down.
Two minutes later Proffitt was through on goal again but with only the keeper to beat he shot straight at him.
Three minutes from time Haddrell crossed a good ball into the box but this time Proffitt side-footed his effort wide of the upright.
Leek survived three minutes of added time to deservedly take the points with a solid performance in front of an almost 400 gate.
Leek: Roberts, Woolliscroft, Johnson (Turner 60), Tinson, Fitton, Thomas, Minor (Mellor 65), Morton, Haddrell, Millar, Gibson (Proffitt 81). Subs: not used; Sanders, Edwards.
Carlton: Marshall, Darkin, Fletcher (Chaplin 85), Goward, Kitchen, Hall, Thornton, Hawkridge (McDonald 69), Gill (Grayson 77), Brown, Hollis, Subs not used; Large, Davis.
Report: Mike Cope