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Match Report: Carlton Town 1 – 2 Grimsby Borough

A Niall Davie goal wasn’t enough for the Millers as Borough took the three points.

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NPL First Division East – December 29

Carlton missed the chance to temporarily move into third in the division as they lost in an entertaining affair at Stoke Lane on Friday evening.

A Niall Davie goal wasn’t enough for the Millers as Borough took the three points with goals from Harvey Tomlinson and Edwin Essel.

Carlton made three changes to the side which brought back three points from Grantham on Boxing Day. There was a second debut for Ryan Ebanks at right back, recently joined from Grantham Town having previously played for Carlton in 2018-19. Khyle Sargent moved into the centre of midfield alongside Greg Tempest as Michael Ford dropped to the bench. Alex Howes also returned to the starting lineup replacing David Adegbola.

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Borough arrived at Stoke Lane having recently arrested a damaging run of seven straight league defeats with a creditable draw against Belper before Christmas and they built on that result last time out, taking local bragging rights in the process as they won the “El Codico” against neighbours, Cleethorpes Town.

It was a relatively cagey opening 15 minutes on a heavy surface as both sides were sizing one another up. Carlton were on top though, winning a couple of free kicks in good positions which came to nothing. In Lewis Durow’s absence Tempest assumed long throw duties which he did admirably well and it was these throws which caused most of the chaos in the Grimsby box with Dean Freeman and Peter Dearle the targets.  Despite causing some problems for Liam Higton in the Grimsby goal it was without a real clear opportunity to take the lead.

Lamin Manneh created the first real chance of the game, taking up possession just inside the visitors’ half.  He left the defenders for dust but was denied from a tight angle by a fine save by Higton.

Tempest was also on corner duty and it was from one of these which saw Freeman rising highest only to see his header crash against the crossbar.

Imbued with confidence and backed by the keen wind, Carlton continued to press high but were caught on the break which resulted in Annan conceding a penalty as he brought down Edwin Essel in the box. Adam Drury stepped up but blazed wildly over the bar which was something more akin to Twickenham than Wembley.  It was though a warning the Millers did not heed and only moments later, Harvey Tomlinson, who was a threat throughout the game from wide positions, found acres of space in the inside right position and calmly fired low past Annan.

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Carlton redoubled their efforts and a nice flowing move between Tempest and Davie provided Howes with a chance which floated just over the bar.

The second half started as the first half ended, the home side dominating territory, possession and dictating the pace of the game. From an Annan free kick deep in the Carlton half, Alex Hardwick did superbly to control and release Lamin Manneh down the left whilst under pressure from defenders on all sides. Manneh beat his man and laid the ball back to his captain in space, 12 yards out and Davie didn’t miss, firing confidently past Higton to the delight of the well-oiled shed end who had been on their Christmas social event during the afternoon.

Carlton were firmly on top now. Sargent, who had an excellent game, and Tempest had more time on the ball in the middle of the field and Grimsby attacks were smothered with relative ease.  Sargent found Ebanks running down the right and the debutant squared it the ball to Hardwick whose shot was well saved by Higton.  By sharp contrast to the last game at Stoke Lane, the referee allowed play to flow as much as he was able but he was called upon as Manneh stopped a Grimsby counter attack illegally earning the Carlton winger a yellow card and a knock himself. Tomlinson once again found space in a dangerous area and went down in the box under pressure from Dearle and Tempest but again, the referee saw little wrong and play continued.

Impetus was shifting back to the visitors and good link up play between Lewis Collins and Drury opened Carlton up down their left again and Drury’s cross was converted by Essel only for the assistant referee’s flag to deny the Grimsby front man. Essel did get the reward for his selfless running throughout the game minutes later as a corner wasn’t claimed cleanly by Annan and the striker pounced to bundle over from a yard out.

Carlton’s managers rang the changes as Durow and Adegbola replaced Manneh and Howes. Hylton was pushed forward and Adegbola deployed on the right.  Tempest was unlucky moments later as a Durow throw was cleared to the Carlton midfielder some 25 yards from goal. He caught the ball sweetly on the volley only for the shot to fly past the keepers upright.

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In a final throw of the dice Tempest was replaced by Musa Jawarra but it was Durow who had the next chance of the game. After an industrious run from Hylton the ball broke to Durow inside the box. His shot was well placed but superbly saved by Higton. In the dying moments Davie, still full of energy, wriggled free in the box and placed a cross shot into a great area. Keeper, defenders and attackers alike seemed to freeze as the ball bobbled across the six-yard box and agonisingly struck the post before being cleared.

The Millers may well look back on this game as one of missed opportunities but no fixture is a “gimme”, every point hugely prized and hard earned and it’s only the finest of margins in the 90 minutes which decide where the points fall. In this highly competitive division this young side should consider their position at the end of 2023 as a massive positive as they look to push on next year.

Carlton will look to regroup as they hit the road again next Saturday with a visit to North Ferriby.

Carlton Town: F Annan, R Ebanks, D Freeman, P Dearle, N Hylton, L Manneh (D Adegbola 80), K Sargent, G Tempest (M Jawarra 86), N Davie, A Howes (L Durow 80), A Hardwick.  Unused Subs: Z Hill, M Ford

Goals: N Davie 49; Harvey Tomlinson 38, Edwin Essel 78

Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Niall Davie

Att: 160

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