MATCH REPORT: Carlton Town 2-2 Sheffield FC

 MATCH REPORT: Carlton Town 2-2 Sheffield FC
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NPL First Division South East
Goals: Opoku 35, Maddison 70 pen; Dan Brown 33og, Lee Cooksey 41.
Attendance: 106

Carlton Town moved a point clear at the top of the table after a 2-2 draw with Sheffield at Stoke Lane.

In an excellent game of football at a sun-drenched Bill Stokeld stadium, Club twice took the lead but the Millers were able to equalise each time.  Whilst both sides could point to poor defending or missed opportunities, in truth a point apiece was a fair outcome for sides which went into the game first and third in the table respectively.

Carlton managers Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey made two changes to the side which lost at Basford Utd in the League Cup in midweek.  In came Dan Brown and Aaron Opoku with Kyle Stovell and Elvis Otim dropping to the bench.  Darryl Thomas, returning to Carlton after a 10-year absence, was named amongst the substitutes.

The Millers had an early claim for a penalty when a shot from Tyler Blake struck Adam Chapman on the arm.  The referee turned away Carlton appeals and Sheffield broke quickly, with Brown making a superb block from the dangerous Mitchell Dunne.

Dunne then drew a good save from Jack Steggles while at the other end Opoku headed just over from a fine Oliver Clark cross.

Clark and Tom Maddison were at the heart of Carlton’s attacking moves, with both players using the ball intelligently to try and open up the Sheffield defence.  Club meanwhile were looking dangerous down the flanks, with Dunne in particular causing problems for Luke Smithson at right back.

Toby Moore saw a shot cleared off the line following a Tyler Johal cross, while Blake held off the challenge of Bradley Beatson to run onto a lovely Maddison floated pass before lifting the ball over Jonathan Hedge in the Sheffield goal.

Johal then found Opoku in the penalty area.  He pulled the ball back to Danny Elliott whose shot was comfortably saved by Hedge.

Sheffield then pushed forward and Beatson saw a header well saved by Steggled.

Opoku should have put the Millers ahead on the half hour. Maddison played a wonderful ball with the outside of his right foot to send the striker clear on goal.   With just Hedge to beat and plenty of time, Opoku elected to try and lob him from the edge of the box but his effort flew over the bar.

Sheffield made the hosts pay when they opened the scoring on 33 minutes.  Dunne raced past Smithson on the left before whipping over a dangerous cross to the far post.  The unfortunate Brown turned the ball into his own net trying to keep it away from Karl Demidh.

With two minutes Carlton were level.  Moore knocked the ball forward.  There seemed little danger but Beatson misjudged his header and Opoku reacted quickest, nipping in to head over the stranded Hedge.

Sheffield regained the lead on 41 minutes.  Dunne sent over another cross from left.  Steggles came for the ball but didn’t get there and Lee Cooksey headed home at the back post.

Steggles though kept Sheffield at bay in first half injury time, tipping a fierce shot from Demidh over the crossbar.

Brookbanks and Harvey replaced Smithson with Otim at half time and moved Brown across to right back with Johal moving to left back to deal with Sheffield’s wide threat.  It was effective as Club were unable to get in behind the Carlton defence in the same way as they had done in the first half.

Nonetheless, they continued to play some lovely football and Moore made another excellent block to deny Dunne, before Brown held off Marc Newsham in the penalty area.

Opoku then beat Rory Coleman and crossed only for Otim to stand on the ball when in sight of goal.

Clark then headed just wide from a Maddison free kick as Carlton sought an equaliser while Newsham headed just over the Millers goal.

Carlton did level on 70 minutes from the penalty spot.   Otim was brought down by Darryl Winter and Maddison fired the penalty into the top corner.

Elliott then ran at the Club defence before teeing up Blake who was denied by a fine tackle by Stuart Ludlam.

Next up it was Opoku who shot just over after some good work by Johal.

Martin Ball and Moore dealt with Sheffield’s threat down the middle but, for all their fine football, Carlton weren’t really causing the Club goalkeeper to do a great deal.  It was much the same the other way, albeit in added time Chapman saw a spectacular overhead kick fall just wide of the goal.

In truth, neither side deserved to lose and a draw was a fitting way to end a fine football match.

Carlton Town: Steggles, Smithson (Otim 46), Brown, Ball, Moore, Maddison, Elliott, Clark, Opoku, Blake, Johal.  Unused substitutes: Robinson, Stovell, Marshall, Thomas

Goals: Opoku 35, Maddison 70 pen; Dan Brown 33og, Lee Cooksey 41.

Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Aaron Opoku

Attendance: 106

Alan Murphy

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