A stunning hat trick from Aaron Opoku helped Carlton Town to a 4-1 at Spalding Utd in the FA Trophy.
Opoku and Mamoke Akaunu were back in the Millers starting eleven after injury and the pair of them were simply too hot for the Tulips defence to handle. They were a constant threat all game and they bullied Spalding into submission.
Akaunu, whose season so far has been restricted to a few minutes in the opening-day win at Tadcaster was excellent throughout and Opoku clearly benefitted from his fellow-striker’s willingness to run at the Spalding defence and pull them all over the place.
Opoku and Akaunu replaced the injured pair of Ben Hutchinson and Aidan Austin from the team which lost to Sheffield last time out.
Playing with an extremely strong wind at their backs, Carlton should have been two ahead inside the opening five minutes. Akaunu was fouled on the right inside the first minutes and when Connor Bartle found the striker with his free kick, he played the ball into the near post where Oliver Clark tried to back-heel it into the net when a firmer strike would have sufficed.
Clark then fed Akaunu who ran into the area with Ellis Humble making a desperate tackle that almost put through his own goal before Michael Duggan made a decent save.
Clark then headed over the bar from just six yards from a Bartle corner as Carlton threatened to run riot.
Instead, it was the home side who took the lead on six minutes with their first attack. Luke White out-paced Kieran Walker before calmly picking his spot with an angled drive past Jack Steggles.
Back came Carlton and another excellent run by Akaunu led to Luke Smithson whipping in a cross that was missed by everyone.
The game then settled down for a period, with the sides looking evenly matched until just before the half hour. Duggan, no doubt due to the wind, completely missed a long throw from Bartle and could only look on as Humble diverted the ball into his own net. The goalkeeper was somewhat relieved when the referee awarded a foul on the goalkeeper that no-one in the ground could see.
Smithson then got himself into a good position in the right but his shot lacked power and was comfortably saved.
Carlton levelled on 35 minutes when Opoku got ahead of his marker to head home a delicious Smithson cross with a glancing header then went in via the post.
Opoku was then dragged down by Jack Fixter as Carlton again upped the pressure.
The Millers went ahead five minutes before half time. Akaunu ran onto a lofted through-ball. Duggan came out to clear but his clearance struck Fixter and rebounded towards goal. Akaunu kept his composure and his footing and steered the ball into the empty net.