Carlton Town’s late playoff surge came to an end on Saturday with a last day 3-0 defeat at Stamford.
Belper’s win at home to Corby meant that Carlton could not qualify for the playoffs in any event, but the Daniels proved too strong for the Millers on the day and became the only team to take six points off Carlton this season.
On a glorious day Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey named an unchanged starting eleven following Monday’s victory against Spalding.
Stamford featured ex-Miller Connor Bartle in their line up.
Backed by an excellent travelling support, which included Carlton legend Steve “Chappo” Chaplin, the Millers began well enough and a neat passing move on five minutes saw Nat Watson draw a decent save from Daniel Wallis.
At the other end Jack Duffy headed just over the bar from close range.
Carlton’s best chance of the game came on seven minutes when Tyler Blake outpaced the home defence but from a good position he hit his effort high over the crossbar.
Bartle then hit a fierce 25-yard drive which drew an excellent save from Shaun Rowley. Rowley was called upon again to make another decent stop, this time from a Jack Duffy header, as Stamford started to increase the pressure.
Cosmas Matwasa was next to run at the Millers defence, only to be denied by a superb Daniel Fletcher tackle.
With the game heading towards half time, the home side took the lead with a goal that had a large element of fortune attached. Tendai Chitiza, who had tormented the Millers when the sides met earlier in the season at Stoke Lane, cut in from the left and hit a shot that looked a routine save for Rowley until the effort struck Martin Ball and the deflection looped over Rowley and into the net.
Stamford pushed on in the second half and Jonathan Margetts hit the post before a bizarre second goal on 68 minutes all but sealed the win. The Daniels were awarded a free kick 25 yards out on the left. Harry Vince’s fine effort struck the post before the referee ordered a re-take as he wasn’t ready. Vince hit a grasscutter along the floor straight at Rowley, only for the ball to hit a divot and completely wrong-foot the keeper on its way into the net.
On 75 minutes there was a melee involving pretty much everyone on the pitch and a number of those in the dug-outs. After a delay of around 10 minutes the referee sent off Brookbanks and gave Harvey a yellow card. Both managers left the field and Daryll Thomas and injured captain Tom Maddison coached the players for the remaining minutes of the game.
In added time Michael Frew completed the scoring, tapping into an empty net after a great run and pass by Jake Duffy.
Stamford’s win meant they finished second and secured home advantage throughout the playoffs. For Carlton, a sixth placed finished was Carlton’s highest in 10 years and the club can be very pleased with its campaign on and off the pitch.
At the end of the game the entire squad came across to thank the travelling supporters for their support this season, which was very much appreciated. The club still has the final of the Notts Senior Cup to look forward to, before they plan for a 16th season at step 4, which given the size of the club is a remarkable achievement.
Carlton Town: S Rowley, L Gorman, D Fletcher, M Ball, D Brown, J Holmes, N Watson, K Sargent (R Tait 64), T Blake (A Opoku 46), A O’Connor, A Howes (L Czerwak 46). Unused substitutes: T Moore, T Johal
Goals: Tendai Chitzia 42, Harry Vince 68, Michael Frew 90
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Daniel Fletcher