Carlton Town’s relegation worries deepened as they surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home to Loughborough Dynamo.
The defeat, Carlton’s eighth in 11 home games, saw the Millers drop to 19th in the table and unless the team regains the defensive solidity displayed earlier in the campaign it will spell the end of step four football after 12 years.
Carlton started much the better and were ahead on eight minutes. Connor Bartle sent over a peach of a free kick from the right and Aaron Opoku met it with a lovely header into the corner of the net.
Loughborough responded and Ryan Ebanks did very well to clear a cross from Josh Riley.
The Millers went two goals ahead on 14 minutes when Oliver Clark headed home a Walker throw-in at the near post.
Dynamo had scored an average of over two goals per game and so were expected to respond and they did on 32 minutes with a fine strike from Luke Thorogood from the left hand corner of the penalty area into the corner of the net past Steggles.
Loughborough ended the half on top searching for the equaliser. Riley shot just over the bar and moments later hit the post from a narrow angle.
Kyle Stovell was as lively as he had been in the Mansfield match but he picked up an injury just before half time which prevented his return in the second half.
His loss was felt as Carlton lost an outlet for the long balls forward and Dynamo enjoyed much more of the possession in the second half. Steggles saved from a Steadman header following a Thorogood free kick before another Steadman shot drew another save from Steggles.
The visitors’ pressure brought their leveller on 62 minutes. Riley fired over a cross from the left which fizzed across goal to the right hand side. The ball was crossed back in from the right and Clark’s headed clearance fell to Thorogood on the edge of the box. He fired at goal, Steggles got behind the shot but the ball squirmed under his body and into the net.
Gordon struck a free kick on 74 minutes which was well held by Steggles but still Loughborough came forward as Carlton were barely able to keep their footing on the pitch, let alone string two passes together.
The penalty came with eleven minutes remaining. Steadman cut in from the left and seemed to simply run straight into Opoku before losing his footing and falling to the floor. The referee awarded a penalty to the horror of the home side and Ryan Robbins fired down the middle to beat Steggles.
The Millers created nothing meaningful in the second half at all and Dynamo should have increased their lead in stoppage time when Ruben Asamoah took the ball around Steggles but with the goal gaping he fired over the bar.
It didn’t matter in the end and Carlton need to improve, and quickly, if they are to preserve their Evo-Stik league status for a 13th year.