CARLTON TOWN 0-2 AFC MANSFIELD - MATCH REPORT
By Alan Murphy
Carlton Town’s fight to stay in the Evo-Stik league will go to the last game of the season following a 2-0 defeat at home to AFC Mansfield.
With rivals Gresley also losing, a point would have been sufficient to guarantee Carlton’s safety but goals in either half from Charlie Dawes and Jon Frogatt gave the visitors the win. As such, the Millers need at least a point from their trip to Marske Utd on Saturday to make Gresley’s result at Pontefract irrelevant.
Indeed, it is only the enforced relegation of the AFC Mansfield due to ground grading issues that gives Carlton any hope of survival at all. Without the Bulls being in their current predicament, this defeat would have all but relegated the Millers.
Manager Wayne Scott made three changes from the side which lost at Brighouse last time out. In came Kieran Walker, Ryan Andrews (for his full debut) and Kyle Stovell. Out went Toby Moore, Henry Rollinson and Oliver Clark (injured).
On a blisteringly hot day at Stoke Lane just 78 supporters came through the gate, albeit they included a number of supporters who had Nottingham Forest season tickets but had forfeited the opportunity to watch the Reds in action to cheer on the Millers in this vital clash.
Carlton came out of the blocks quickest and Stovell should have put them ahead inside two minutes, but he missed the ball completely when attempting to head home a Ben Hutchinson corner at the near post.
James Frost, playing at right back, then went on a lovely run before crossing to Tyler Blake whose effort was comfortably saved by Jason White in the Bulls goal.
Mansfield had their first attack on 17 minutes and Ryan Ebanks did well to block a Frogatt effort.
Hutchinson then went close with a fierce shot following some deft footwork, but White was equal to it.
Forward came Carlton again and Aaron Opoku headed just over from a deep Edward Clarke cross.
AFC thought they’d scored minutes later. A deep corner was tipped away by Jack Steggles, only for the ball to fall to Frogatt, whose snap-shot volley was on its way into the net until a stunning goal-line volleyed clearance from Frost.
Carlton went straight up the pitch and when Stovell saw a shot blocked, Hutchinson fired the rebound at goal. White spilled the ball but recovered just in time to prevent Blake form scoring.
Blake and Stovell combined to chip the ball into Opoku’s path. He chested the ball down beautifully but then lifted a half-volley high over the bar from a good position.
The Millers were made to pay when the Bulls took the lead four minutes before half time. Frogatt moved down the left with little resistance and when he played the ball inside, Dawes fired low into the corner of the net.
Mansfield had the opening chance of the second half and Dawes drew a fine diving save from Steggles before Oliver Fearon lifted a shot over the bar after a clever short free kick routine.
By this stage of the game Carlton were running out of ideas and the strain was starting to show, with players arguing with each other and the coaching staff.
The Bulls kept plugging away and when James Ghaichem sent Frogatt clean through on goal, only a superb block by Edward Clarke prevented a goal.
Hutchinson forced his way through on goal and saw a shot blocked by Jordan Annable.
The visitors sealed victory with eight minutes remaining. A Hutchinson corner saw Opoku miss a header in front of goal. Fearon picked up the ball in the right back position, ran 90 yards unchallenged before crossing to Frogatt who converted at the near post.
Andrews, impressive throughout in midfield, had one final effort, an overhead kick from a Walker throw-in, but it was, once again, not Carlton’s day.
They have one remaining chance to show they merit staying in the Evo-Stik league when they travel to Marske on Saturday.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Frost, Ebanks, Bertram, E Clarke, Walker, Andrews, Stovell (Pick 73), Blake, Hutchinson (Ikwa 83), Opoku. Unused subs: Moore, Rollinson, O Clark
Goals: Charlie Dawes 41, Jon Frogatt 82
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Ryan Andrews
Attendance - 78