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MATCH REPORT: Shaw Lane 2 – 1 Carlton Town

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It was always likely to be a tough encounter against high-flying opponents but manager Wayne Scott must be concerned about the fragility of a side who have lost three games from winning positions already this season with another one drawn writes Alan Murphy.

Quite simply, it is a habit that needs eradicating if the Millers are to avoid another season battling against relegation.

Scott made two changes to the side which lost against Gresley last time out. Eddie Schoenecker was unavailable and Romello Nangle called in sick on the morning of the game, leaving the Milers travelling to Barnsley with just two substitutes. They were replaced by Jacob Sturgess and Kevin Lusamba respectively in the starting eleven.

The Ducks began well and Gavin Allott fizzed and early ball across the face of goal with no one on hand to tap in.

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Allott himself then headed over unmarked from six yards before having to go off with an early injury.

At the other end Josh Rae, working tirelessly up front, beat two tackles and earned a corner which led to Danny Gordon whipping over a cross just out of reach of Romaine Graham.

The Ducks had looked threatening but the Carlton defence was performing well, with full backs Lawrence Gorman and Daniel Fletcher dealing with the wide threat and Graham and Kieron Walker looking solid in the middle.

The Millers were then awarded a penalty on 27 minutes when Lusamba and Gordon combined to feed Niall Davie in the area. His cross was handled by Ryan Qualter who received a yellow card for his troubles. There were no complaints about the decision and Gordon sent Jon Stewart the wrong way to the delight of the travelling support.

Shaw Lane put the Millers under some pressure in the closing minutes of the half and Jack Steggles made a stunning save from Joel Purkiss to secure the visitors’ half time lead.

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Scott made a tactical switch early in the second half, moving Lusamba into the middle and pushing Rae to the flank.

It was all Shaw Lane in the opening 20 minutes of the half though. Rob Boardman should have done better when he fired wide in the opening 30 seconds and only a fine Walker tackle prevented Purkiss from going clean through.

The equaliser looked had a somewhat inevitable feel about it and it duly arrived on 55 minutes. The Ducks attacked from their own right back position through the middle. Ben Algar’s cross was headed against the crossbar by Purkiss but Alex Byrne was on hand to force the rebound over the line.

Carlton responded and Gordon saw a 20 yard shot saved by Stewart but this was a rare attack in the opening period of the second half.

Shaw Lane broke quickly from a Carlton attack and Kieran Lugsden saw a superb 25 yard strike crash against the crossbar and fall to safety.

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The reprieve was short-lived however as Lugsden gave the home side the lead on 65 minutes, steering home from inside the area after Carlton failed to clear a corner.

Rae then shot wide as Carlton looked for an equaliser.

Scott made a double substitution, bringing on Matt Newton and Kallum Keane, and their presence made a difference as Carlton gained a foothold in midfield.

Shaw Lane, who earlier in the half looked like they might score a hatful, began to defend ever deeper as Carlton pushed for an equaliser.

The leveller should have arrived on 85 minutes and it remains a mystery quite how the Millers didn’t score. Niall Davie was fouled on the left hand side near to the corner flag, and when Gordon’s whipped free kick wasn’t cleared, no fewer than three Carlton players had close range shots cleared off the line, with Rae and Graham being among the men who couldn’t get the ball across the line.

The fourth opportunity fell to Lusamba who fired into the side netting.

The Ducks will feel their defenders put their bodies on the line to keep the ball out of the net and that is certainly true, but the reality is that Carlton simply had to take that chance and the repeated misses illustrated the lack of cutting edge in the team.

There were no further opportunities and the home side, cheered on by an impressively vocal junior supporters club, were relieved to have secured the win.

Carlton Town: Steggles, Gorman, Fletcher, Wholey (Keane 67), Graham, Walker, Lusamba, Sturgess (Newton 67), Rae, Davie Gordon.

Goals: Gordon 27 pen; Alex Byrne 55, Kieran Lugsden 65

Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Kieron Walker

Attendance: 125

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