Bingham Town 1-2 Carlton Town (AET: 1-1 at 90 mins)
Notts FA Senior Cup 4th Round
Carlton Town survived an almighty scare to beat step 7 Bingham Town 2-1 after extra time in the fourth round of the Notts FA Senior Cup.
Bingham had been drawn at home in this tie but had to play the game at Carlton due to their lack of floodlights, but for long periods of normal time they looked the better side on an appalling surface. However, having taken the lead they were unable to hold on and the Millers should have won by more than just the one goal after creating a string of clear chances in extra time.
The Notts Senior league side were cheered on by an impressive number of supporters in the 174 crowd, but at least one of them soured the occasion with some racist abuse of Carlton striker Aaron Opoku and the Notts FA are expected to launch an investigation after being written to by match-winner Mamoke Akaunu.
The reprehensible actions of this Neanderthal shouldn’t detract from the fine performance from Bingham nor from the spirited support of the majority of their fans.
Carlton managers Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey made five changes from the side which beat Sheffield last time out. Out went Dan Brown, Daniel Fletcher, Danny Elliott (injured), Opoku and Tyler Blake. In came Oliver Robinson, Tyler Johal, Eli Bako, Daryl Thomas and Kyle Stovell.
Both teams and the supporters observed an impeccable minute’s silence in memory of Matlock Town player Jordan Sinnott who was killed at the weekend.
On a surface so soft and heavy it was almost impossible to turn on, Bingham began cautiously with men deep as if seeing what Carlton would throw at them. The answer in the first half was not a lot.
Bako had the first chance of the game when he fired just wide from a Niall Davie cross, but Bingham realised the Millers were not at their best and pushed forward. Ed Hodgson drove down the right and crossed for Jake Hardy who shot inches wide from an excellent position.
That was the first of a number of misses for the “home” side and if there was any evidence of their step 7 status at all on the pitch, it was in their inability to make their superiority count where it mattered.
The next chance saw Jack Steggles do well to hold onto a Cole Maule drive before at the other end a dangerous Johal cross was cleared.
Callum Leach looked impressive throughout for Bingham and after one fine run into the penalty area he shot just wide of the post.
As the half wore on it was increasingly all Bingham and Tom Spencer, who had an excellent game up front, fed centre-half Rob Lakin who shot wide, before Euan Sweeting hit a 30-yard pile-driver just over the bar.
Carlton were struggling to keep any possession, albeit the state of the pitch did not help their usual pass-and-move football, but Bingham simply adapted better to the conditions.
The second half started in much the same way as the first half ended and Lakin headed straight at Steggles from close range.
Carlton did earn a couple of corners and Bako sent one to Toby Moore whose header was just missed by Thomas.
Back at the other end Leach should have scored when Spencer put him clean through on goal but the wide man fired his effort straight at Steggles.
Oliver Clark should have put Carlton ahead on 58 minutes. Davie crossed from the left to find Clark just a couple of yards from goal but the midfielder’s attempt at a back-flick struck the post and was eventually bundled wide.
Carlton brought on Blake to add sharpness to the attack but it was Bingham who went closest to opening the scoring on the hour when Leach struck a 25-yarder against the crossbar after fine build-up play by Spencer and Sweeting.
It took the “visitors” just two more minutes to open the scoring. Carlton gave the ball away deep in their own half and Hodgson made them pay, running to the edge of the box and firing into the roof of the net.
The Millers made an immediate double substitution, bringing on Opoku and Akaunu and the changes made an immediate difference as Carlton began to cause their opponents far more problems up front.
Within seven minutes of the changes the Millers were level. A Davie free kick from the right was miscued by the otherwise excellent Lakin straight to Blake who hit a sweet volley into the corner of the net.
Another Davie free kick was headed across goal by Moore to Martin Ball who missed his kick with the goal at his mercy.
Ball then fed Blake who sent Opoku clean through on goal but Harry Haywood stood firm and saved the shot.
Akaunu almost won the game in normal time but he just missed another Davie cross, while Lakin headed just wide of goal in the last minute of added time in the 90.
The game therefore headed into extra time and Akaunu won the game for the Millers on 97 minutes. Opoku fed Blake who darted into the area. He looked set to score until Haywood blocked but the loose ball fell to Akaunu who coolly fired into the net from the edge of the box despite the best efforts of Lakin.
A minute later Akaunu presented Blake with a gilt-edged chance but the striker slipped on the surface and neither he nor Akaunu could force the ball home.
By the second half of extra time with the game slipping away from them the “visiting” supporters vented their frustrations at the officials. In truth, Carlton by that stage should have put the game out of sight. Clark and Blake both had glorious opportunities to score, only to be denied by goal-line clearances from Hodgson and Lakin, while Opoku volleyed an Akaunu cross over the bar late on.
But the Millers secured their passage to the quarter-finals and there followed the ugly abuse of Opoku.
Carlton could feel grateful to have just about secured the win, while Bingham could feel justifiably proud of their performance in what the club itself described as the biggest game in their history.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Robinson, Johal, Ball, Moore, Maddison, Bako (Blake 59), Clark, Stovell (Opoku 65), Thomas (Akaunu 65), Davie (Fletcher 99). Unused substitutes: Brown
Goals: Blake 72, Akaunu 97; Ed Hodgson 62
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Toby Moore