The defeat means the Millers have now lost 10 of their 13 home games and it’s that abysmal run that means they are just one point above the relegation zone with 13 games of the season remaining.
Carlton’s away form has been their saviour so far this year, with five wins and three draws from their 12 games. The team has a style of play that plainly suits playing away from home but they urgently need to address their home form before it’s too late.
Manager Wayne Scott made two changes to the side which beat Newark Flowserve last time out. Out went Jacob Spence and Joshua Kwadu and in came Kyle Stovell and Aaron Opoku.
On another heavy pitch Carlton had the first chance when Stovell headed wide from a Henry Rollinson corner.
The Owls almost scored on nine minutes when Jack Steggles misjudged Sam Topliss’s 40-yard free kick in the strong wind and was relieved to see the bar strike the bar before being cleared.
Neither side had done a great deal before the visitors opened the scoring on 20 minutes from the penalty spot. Brody Robertson outpaced James Frost and crossed into the area from the left. Jack Richardson seemed to run into Connor Bartle before falling to the floor but the referee awarded what looked a soft penalty. Josh Batty hit the ball down the middle and although Steggles got a hand to it he couldn’t keep it out.
Bartle and Aidan Austin combined with Carlton’s first bit of quality football on the half hour. Austin’s dangerous cross was cleared for a corner which came to nothing.
Harry Wood and Bartle then combined with the latter firing a cross-shot towards goal before it was cleared.
The Owls doubled their lead on 41 minutes. Bartle brought down Robertson near the right corner flag and when Alex Flett sent the free kick to the near post, Batty got ahead of the Carlton defence to head home.
Kyle Stovell pulled a goal back on the stroke of half time with a neat close range finish after Riece Bertram had flicked on a long throw from Kieran Walker.
With the strong wind at their backs it was Carlton who looked the more dangerous at the start of the second half. Their best chance of the entire game came five minutes into the half. Bartle created space for himself inside the penalty area and fired at goal. Theo Richardson could only parry to Austin on the edge of the box but the striker put his effort over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Minutes later Stovell was impeded on the edge of the penalty area. Bartle’s free kick was fumbled by Theo Richardson but none of the Carlton forwards were alert to the opportunity and the goalkeeper was able to gather at the second attempt.
Back came Cleethorpes and Flett saw a cross-shot from the left flash across the goal.
Cleethorpes had weathered the Carlton storm and regained their two-goal advantage on 66 minutes. Lewis Collins spread the play to the left with a neat pass to Jon Oglesby. His cross found Robertson who fired home from six yards.
Walker hit the side netting with an angled drive as Carlton tried to get back into the game but if Cleethorpes’s third goal hadn’t quite killed the game as a contest, their fourth did.
Once again it came from a penalty, awarded for a foul on Flett, seconds after he had hit the post with a fierce shot. This time Steggles made an excellent save from Batty’s spot kick but could only look on as Danny North reacted quicker than the Carlton players to lift the rebound into the roof of the net.
The Millers kept trying and Bertram drew an excellent save from Theo Robertson with a near post header from another Walker throw-in, whilst the goalkeeper did even better to tip Henry Rollinson’s wind-assisted 40-yard free kick over the bar.
With the game in the fifth minute of added time, Cleethorpes added a fifth goal to their tally. Flett was in acres of space at the back post after a cross from the left and he had the simple task of applying the finish to another miserable afternoon for those Millers fans who had turned up.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Ebanks, Bartle (Otshudy), Frost, Bertram, Walker, Rollinson, Wood, Stovell, Opoku (Kwadu 76), Austin (Podier 81). Unused substitutes: Davie, Pick
Goals: Stovell 45; Josh Batty 20 (pen), 41, Brody Robertson 66, Danny North 74, Alex Flett 90
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Connor Bartle