Oliver Clark, pictured, scored twice as Carlton Town beat St Neots Town 3-1 in the FA Trophy at Stoke Lane.
Clark’s brace had the Millers comfortably ahead but there were some nervous moments when Sam Goode struck for the visitors with 18 minutes remaining. Those nerves were settled three minutes from time when Tom Maddison secured the win from the penalty spot.
Carlton made three changes to the side which drew with Spalding last time out. In came Dan Brown, Daniel Fletcher and Tyler Blake in place of Oliver Robinson, Tyler Johal and Luke Smithson.
The expansion of step 4 of the pyramid has led to a significant increase in the number of clubs having to start the FA Trophy in the extra-preliminary round and this was the first time Carlton Town had entered at this, the very first round of the competition. It was also a first ever meeting with Southern League St Neots Town, who brought a decent following in the 98 crowd.
The Millers began the better and Aaron Opoku had an early effort comfortably saved by James Philp in the Saints goal.
Opoku had Carlton’s best chance in the early stages, heading over from a Niall Davie cross after some good interplay between those two and Daniel Fletcher.
The visitors looked compact and organised in defence but offered little threat going forward in the first half. Their only real effort on goal came on 27 minutes when Prince Mutswunguma fired high over the bar from 25 yards.
Carlton opened the scoring on 38 minutes. A Davie free kick from the right found Clark in the penalty area and he powered a header past Philp and into the corner of the net.
The same combination saw the Millers double their lead four minutes into the second half when Clark headed home a Davie corner after Philp came for the ball and missed it.
The Saints reacted by making a double substitution and were desperately close to pulling a goal back on 59 minutes. Martin Ball’s back pass seemed straightforward enough but Jack Steggles mis-controlled the ball and his hurried clearance struck Mutswunguma, hit the post before rebounding via the striker for a goal kick.
Daryl Thomas came on for Carlton for his first appearance for the Millers in over 10 years and he was in the action straight away, slipping a Maddison pass into the path of Opoku to send the striker one-on-one against Philp, but the keeper saved his effort.
St Neots had been pushing Carlton back as the half progressed and they were right back in the game on 72 minutes when they pulled a goal back. Goode found himself unmarked at the back post from a Lee Watkins corner and he forced the ball home despite the efforts of Steggles to keep it out.
The visitors pushed forward in search of an equaliser to earn a replay and put some long range efforts wide of goal but any Carlton worries were extinguished on 87 minutes when they restored their two goal lead.
Danny Elliott fed substitute Mamoke Akaunu and when he advanced into the penalty area he was brought down by Aaron Smith. Up stepped Maddison to convert his seventh penalty of the season and secure the win.
Carlton almost scored a flattering fourth goal in added time when Tyler Johal ran 50 yards before firing at Philp with Thomas unmarked in the area, but it didn’t matter as the Millers earned a home tie against Biggleswade or Bedford Town in the next round.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Brown, Fletcher, Ball, Moore, Maddison, Elliott, Clark, Opoku (Akaunu 70), Blake (Thomas 66), Davie (Johal 90). Unused substitutes: Robinson, Smithson.
Goals: Clark 38, 49, Maddison 87 pen; Sam Goode 72.
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Oliver Clark