A wonder-strike by substitute Mitchell Dunne saw Sheffield beat Carlton Town in a disappointing encounter at Stoke Lane.
Dunne struck midway through the second half in one of the few moments of genuine quality in a scrappy game played in front of just 74 spectators, a worryingly low attendance given it was a Saturday match against fairly local opposition with Nottingham Forest playing away.
Sheffield came into the game having conceded an astonishing 27 goals in their eight league games and were thumped 6-0 at Loughborough in their last Evo-Stik outing, so hopes must have been high that Carlton would attack from the off.
Instead, in a scrappy opening half, Carlton’s main threat came down the left, with Connor Bartle and Aidan Austin regularly combining to good effect.
Austin created Carlton’s first chance on 11 minutes with an excellent run and cross from the left, but Luke Smithson was unable to get ahead of his man and the chance was cleared. At the other end Toby Moore made an excellent covering tackle to stop a Sheffield advance.
Oliver Clark then showed some strength to win the ball in midfield and thread a pass to put Smithson away on the right. He fired at goal and saw Adam Kelsey dive low to save.
By then Hutchinson too had succumbed to injury and been replaced by Louis Tomlinson. It was Tomlinson who played a neat lofted ball which sent Davie through. His first attempt at a volley missed the ball and his second effort was blocked by Kelsey.
Carlton’s best move of the half saw Austin play the ball into Tomlinson whose lovely pass set Davie free again. He got the ball under control well but then pulled a poor shot wide of target.
There was a flurry of goalmouth activity at both ends as the half drew to a close. First Bartle sent over a fantastic cross which no-one read. Then Club broke at pace through Marc Newsham. He slipped the ball to Waide Fairhurst whose low shot was well held by Jack Steggles.
On a damp afternoon and with a greasy surface, both sides were barely able to string three passes together.
Fairhurst fired an early second half shot just wide from the edge of the box before Carlton almost scored a freak goal at the other end. Oliver Robinson’s free kick should have been dealt with by Kelsey. However, in attempting to punch clear, the goalkeeper inadvertently sliced his punch with the ball heading into the net until the covering Ben Turner headed off the line.
Sheffield made the most of that escape by taking the lead on 68 minutes. Carlton lost possession twice in quick succession in midfield and the ball was fed to Dunne. He ran from left to right with nothing in the way of a challenge to stop him and then unleashed a screamer from 25 yards which flew past Steggles into the top corner.
Although there was still a quarter of the game to play, that was pretty much that. Carlton had a spell of pressure and a few corners but failed to test Kelsey again and their misery was complete in added time when manager Wayne Scott was sent off for stopping the ball while it was still on the pitch as it was heading out for a Carlton throw-in.