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MATCH REPORT: Carlton Town 0 – 2 Shildon

The defeat saw the Millers drop into the automatic relegation positions for the first time this season. 

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NPL First Division East

28 January 2023

Carlton Town’s 16 year stay at step 4 is in serious danger after a 2-0 home defeat against fellow strugglers Shildon.

The defeat saw the Millers drop into the automatic relegation positions for the first time this season.  With only one goal and one point since the end of November these are difficult days for the Stoke Lane side.  And with only four clean sheets in 22 league games it’s clear that the problems are at both ends of the pitch.  Finding a solution, and quickly, will no doubt be foremost on the minds of Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey.

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The Millers made one change to the side which had lost at Stocksbridge last time out, with Tyler Blake coming in for Brad Wells.

On a difficult playing surface neither side created much in a tense first half.  Jonny White and Khyle Sargent picked up early bookings as Carlton began with determination, looking to get on the front foot.

Carlton had a couple of half chances, including one corner that Harrison Bond in the Shildon goal did well to palm away, but although there was plenty of effort, there was a lack of real quality from both teams.  The pitch didn’t help with players struggling to keep their footing but it was clear that neither side wanted to risk conceding the first goal with the result that both defences were very much on top.

Carlton suffered an injury blow on 26 minutes when Lewis Durow looked to have torn his hamstring.  He was replaced by Kyle Dixon with Niall Hylton dropping to left back.

The home side’s first real chance came on 33 minutes.  White did well to advance down the right and win a throw in.  The ball was played to Kyle Tomlin who played a lovely one-two with Blake before speeding to the by-line and sending over a superb cross that was just begging to be converted, but no Carlton player was on hand.

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Minutes later Tomlin slipped the ball to Dixon on the right corner of the penalty area after a fine run by Hylton, but Dixon hit his shot high and wide.

Shildon had a couple of moments themselves with dangerous crosses and Sargent and Dan Brown did well to keep them at bay, but in truth neither side did enough in the first half to justify taking the lead.

10 minutes into the second half there was a sense of déjà vu for the home support as, for the third successive game, Carlton went behind to an early second half goal.  A crossfield ball saw Joe Posthill speed away down the left and his cross was diverted past Mikey Emery by the unfortunate Brown.

Eight minutes later the visitors doubled their advantage in controversial circumstances.  Hylton’s attack down the left was brought to a premature end by the arm of Aidan Heywood.  The referee took the view it was unavoidable and ignored Carlton appeals for a free kick.  Heywood took full advantage, speeding down the right and crossing for Billy Greulich-Smith to get in between Brown and Dean Freeman and steer home.

Harvey and Brookbanks brought on Wells and Aaron O’Connor to try and salvage something from the game and both made a positive impact.  Nevertheless, Shildon almost had a third when Posthill took the ball around Emery only for Brown to block.

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Sargent continued to get around the pitch and Wells drew a save from Bond, his first of the game, after Freeman had flicked on a White throw.

With five minutes remaining Freeman headed an Alex Howes corner against the bar, and Hylton saw an effort blocked after some fine work by O’Connor.

A couple of minutes later Wells held off Alex white and slipped the ball to Tomlin whose low drive missed the post by inches.  And in added time Bond made an excellent save from a fierce 25-yard drive from Wells, before the referee ended proceedings.

Carlton never stopped trying but it was another disappointing afternoon for the home support.  The players came across to thank the home fans at the end, and as always it was much appreciated.

Carlton Town: M Emery, J White, L Durow (K Dixon 28), D Brown,  D Freeman, J Holmes (B Wells 66), N Hylton, K Sargent, T Blake (A O’Connor 66), K Tomlin, A Howes. Unused substitutes: R Stainsby, L Gorman

Goals: Dan Brown (og) 55, Billy Greulich-Smith 63

Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Khyle Sargent

Att: 124

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