The Owls marched to a convincing 5-1 victory in the East Midlands to maintain their recent sprint up the table. Goals from Josh Batty (2), Brody Robertson, Danny North and Alex Flett swept aside a Millers’ team, who could only respond with an effort by Kyle Stovell.
After some deliberation, Dave Smith opted for just one change from the win against Gresley. Craig Disley came in for the injured Andy Taylor and the side lined up as follows:
Goal: Theo Richardson
Defence: Tim Lowe, Paul Walker, Oli Donald, Sam Topliss
Midfield defence: Craig Disley, Alex Flett (captain)
Midfield attack: Lewis Collins, Jack Richardson, Brody Robertson
Attack: Josh Batty
Subs: Loz McKay, Danny North, Jon Oglesby, Jack Boswell, Mark Gray
It was a blustery afternoon on the outskirts of Nottingham, as the fixture got underway watched by a sparse crowd. Around a quarter of the attendance had travelled from North East Lincolnshire to provide the Owls with their usual excellent backing.
After Carlton had gone close from an early corner, the first real excitement came in the 9th minute. Clee were awarded a free-kick 3 yards inside their own territory and it was unusual to see keeper Theo Richardson venture so far forward to take the set-piece. Whether the stopper had spotted his opposite number some way off his line is open to question, but his audacious strike flew over a startled Steggles and crashed back off the underside of the bar.
Despite the heavy pitch, the Owls were beginning to edge a competitive start and the opening goal appeared with 20 played. Excellent play on the left by Robertson created space for a low cross, which was about to be met by J Richardson, before a clumsy challenge barged the Owls’ man to the floor. No hesitation from the referee to award a penalty and Josh Batty’s centrally placed kick had the necessary power to beat Steggles.
The Millers, who have the worst home record in the division, responded with a spell of pressure. However, the settled defence, with Donald’s heading catching the eye, coped without too much undue alarm.
Indeed, it was still the visitors looking the more likely to increase their advantage. Steggles did well to scoop away a 20-yard shot from Batty and then, in the next attack, captain Flett had a cross-shot cleared off the line.
The Owls did move two ahead in the 41st minute and the same players were involved. A free-kick close to the by-line on the right was expertly floated in by Flett and Josh Batty dispatched a firm header into the net. It was the in-form strikers 7th goal in as many outings and an impressive 18th for the campaign in all competitions.
To their credit, Carlton battled back to halve the deficit seconds before the break. Bertram’s flick forward was guided into the corner by Kyle Stovell to provide the Millers with hope.
HT Carlton Town 1 (Stovell 45) Cleethorpes Town 2 (Batty 20 pen, 41)
Jack Richardson, who had played really well in the first-half, failed to reappear for the second 45 and was replaced by Jon Oglesby.
News soon filtered to the away fans that the midfielder had suffered a period of unconsciousness in the dressing room and an ambulance was called. After treatment, the Owls’ player was able to leave the ground to travel home. Nevertheless, following a hospital visit, it was diagnosed that Jack was suffering from mild concussion – many thanks to everyone who helped out at Stoke Lane.
Carlton enjoyed their best spell of the contest in the opening minutes after the interval. It was only some solid defending and a good save from Richardson that preserved the lead. The Owls gradually began to reassert themselves though and the pivotal fourth goal arrived in the 65th minute – it was a cracker as well!
Excellent team play involving the lively Collins and substitute Oglesby laid on an enticing chance for Brody Robertson. The striker did not need a second invitation to fire the Owls back into their 2-goal lead.
Flett was booked in the aftermath and, shortly afterwards, Danny North entered the fray at the expense of goalscorer Robertson.
The striker made an immediate impact, fully securing the three points for the Owls in the 74th minute. A second penalty of the afternoon presented Batty with the perfect chance to complete his hat-trick. However, Steggles dived to his right to palm away the kick, but Danny North reacted quickest and thrashed an unstoppable drive from an acute angle into the roof of the net.
It was just a question of game management for the final phase and, in truth, Carlton now looked well beaten. The management took the opportunity to give a further taste of Evostik action to the promising Jack Boswell, with man-of-the-match Josh Batty giving way.
As the rain poured down, there was still time for further salt to be rubbed into the Millers’ wounds with the final play. Once again, the home defence was ripped to shreds by quick passing and it was left to the hardworking Alex Flett to deliver the coup-de-grace with a side-footed finish from 10 yards.
FT Carlton Town 1 (Stovell 45) Cleethorpes Town 5 (Batty 20 pen, 41, Robertson 65, North 74, Flett 90+4) Attendance: 81
Notwithstanding the worrying injury to Jack Richardson, it was a very satisfactory road win for the Owls!
It seemed a great chance to extend our unbeaten run to nine against a depleted Carlton. We certainly did not waste it either and there was a clear gulf between the two sides. Apart from a brief spell at the start of each half when the Millers threatened, it was largely one-way traffic.
Plenty of candidates for the man-of-the-match, with honourable mentions to Oli Donald, Alex Flett and Lewis Collins. However, the award on the day goes to a striker in a rich vein of form, step forward Josh Batty – well played!
21 points from the last 9 games is an incredible turnaround, well done to everyone for putting in the necessary work. Sitting pretty in 8th now and I would imagine the sides in the play-offs are starting to get a little nervous, as they see our gathering momentum. Important back-to-back games against Marske upcoming – if we can come through these unbeaten, I fancy our chances to get in the top 5.
Saturday 2nd February – 3pm
Marske United – Evostik East
Linden Club, Clee Road, Grimsby, DN32 8QL
Adults £8, Concessions (over 65s and 16-18) £4, Under 16s £2
UP THE OWLS!