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Match Report: Carlton Town FC 2 – 3 Newark & Sherwood United

The Millers fail to add to their four previous wins in the Notts Senior Cup

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Notts Senior Cup Final (at Eastwood Community FC)

2 May 2023

Carlton Town’s attempt to win their fifth Notts Senior Cup ended in failure as they were beaten 3-2 by Newark & Sherwood Utd at Eastwood Community FC.

The Millers paid the price for a lacklustre first half in which they conceded two early goals and only avoided a third due to a Mikey Emery penalty save.  Carlton improved after the break and did threaten an improbable comeback late goals from Nat Watson and Dean Freeman but the step 5 Highwaymen deserved to win the competition for the first time in their history.

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Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey made two changes to the side which had beaten Dunston last time out to secure step 4 safety.  Into the side came Niall Davie and Aaron O’Connor to replace Kyle Tomlin and Kieran Watson.

Tommy reflects on a dramatic finish to the Senior Cup Final with The Millers going down 2-3 (Courtesy of CTTV)

Newark featured ex-Millers Romaine Graham and Ryan Ebanks in their starting lineup.

The Highwaymen had finished the season eighth in the United Counties League Premier North division and if Carlton had any thoughts that the difference in levels would have any bearing on the outcome, they should have been dispelled at the weekend when nine of the 13 interstep playoffs were won by the visiting step 5 clubs.

But from the first whistle it was clear that Newark were more up for the game than Carlton and they opened the scoring on just five minutes when Kieran Cummings latched onto a short Khyle Sargent backpass, rounded Emery and slotted home into an open goal.

Carlton’s first chance came on 14 minutes when Niall Hylton was brought down on the edge of the box by Graham, but Watson put the resultant free kick over the top.

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The Highwaymen doubled their lead on 17 minutes when a long ball down the left was controlled by Cummings.  He then ran at two Carlton defenders, shimmied to the left and fired past Emery at his near post.

Watson, one of the few Carlton players to emerge with any credit in the first half, missed a glorious chance to pull one back shortly afterwards when he volleyed over from six yards after a Lewis Durow throw in was flicked on by Jared Holmes and Freeman.

Watson, at times looking to run the game single-handedly, then ran though the Newark midfield and sent the ball wide to Niall Hylton.  His cross was intercepted by goalkeeper Ross Woolley before O’Connor could get to the ball.

Newark were awarded a penalty on 32 minutes when Lewis Durow was penalised for a foul on Luke White but Emery guessed correctly and saved Cummings’s penalty.  It was Emery’s second spot-kick save in successive games and at least kept the game as some sort of contest.

Carlton’s best effort of the half came shortly before the break when O’Connor won the ball following a Holmes pass, darted into the area and drew an excellent save from Woolley.

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Carlton made a double substitution at half time with Alex Troke and Lawrence Gorman both coming on for Holmes and Elliott.  Sargent saw an early effort blocked after another decent Watson run as Carlton’s impressive following got behind their team.

Watson had his second great chance on the hour when a Gorman cross found him unmarked in the area but he miscued and Woolley was able to save.

Carlton finally started to pressurise Newark and they moved the ball around well, but the Highwaymen kept their shape and looked relatively untroubled.  Indeed, they were inches away from adding to their lead when a poor clearance led to White hitting a 30 yard shot that cannoned off the bar with emery stranded.

With five minutes remaining Carlton pulled a goal back when Watson and Troke played a neat one-two and Watson fired past Woolley.

Any hoped of a comeback seemed over four minutes later when White was tripped by Gorman in the area and the same player got up to convert the penalty.

But still Carlton pushed forward and four minutes into the six added minutes Dean Freeman latched onto a ricochet to steer the ball past Woolley.

Indeed, the Millers then thought they should have had a penalty of their own when lively substitute Marzano played a ball into Troke who seemed to be clattered to the floor.  But the referee wasn’t interested and within a few seconds Newark & Sherwood were celebrating a famous win.

Perhaps the efforts of winning six of the last 10 games to avoid relegation had taken their toll on the players.  Certainly the first half display was well below their recent performances.  But there should be no doubt that the Highwaymen deserved their title and their vocal support enjoyed the celebrations that Carlton fans experienced as recently as last season.  As they generally do the players came across to thank the supporters and, as always, it was appreciated.

Given where the club was at the start of March, a cup final and step 4 survival is a fine achievement.  But all concerned will know there is plenty of work to do to prepare for the next campaign.

Carlton Town: M Emery, K Sargent, L Durow (C Marzano 73), D Brown, D Freeman, J Holmes (A Troke 46), N Davie (K Tomlin 54), D Elliott (L Gorman 46), N Watson, A O’Connor, N Hylton (K Dixon 83). Unused substitutes: None

Goals: N Watson 85, D Freeman 90; Kieran Cummings 5, 17, Luke White 89 (pen)

Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM – Nat Watson

Att: 467

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