Carlton Town came from two goals behind to beat Wisbech Town 6-4 in a remarkable game at Stoke Lane.
The 10 goal scoreline was the first time Carlton had been involved in a 10-goal game since the 6-4 defeat against Long Eaton Utd in 2003-04 and gave the Millers their first home league win since beating Newcastle Town back in September.
Wisbech came into the game bottom of the table but the quality demonstrated in their display didn’t suggest a team short on either ability or determination. However, Carlton managers Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey will be pleased at the spirit and character their players showed after a pretty woeful opening period of the game.
Carlton made two changes to the side which drew at Sutton Coldfield last time out. Martin Ball was ill and Daniel Fletcher was injured so they were replaced by Oliver Robinson and the returning captain Tom Maddison.
Wisbech had a very strong wind at their backs in the first half and they made the most of it, putting Carlton under pressure from the kick off. Charley Sanders had an early attempt well saved by Jack Steggles as Carlton struggled to get going.
The Fenmen took the lead on 12 minutes. They were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box after the Millers failed to deal with a run from midfield and Danny Draper hit an excellent strike into the goal via Steggles’s far post.
The goal did little to raise the Millers from their stupor and the visitors made it 2-0 on 19 minutes. John Dean outpaced Robinson who brought him down for the first of the three penalties awarded in the game. Steggles got both hands onto Sanders’s spot kick but couldn’t keep it out.
Aaron Opoku was causing problems for the home defence on the rare occasions Carlton got forward and he created an opportunity for the industrious Danny Elliott but the shot was blocked and cleared.
Opoku then outmuscled Liam Marshall and took the ball around goalkeeper Sam Wilson only to be denied by a superb recovery block by Marshall.
Wisbech should have further extended their lead on 29 minutes. A cross from the left found Sanders unmarked. His header struck Steggles on his legs and the loose ball ricocheted around the goal before being cleared.
Opoku had the ball in the net on 34 minutes but was denied by an offside flag as Carlton sought to get back into the game.
In truth the Millers had put in their worst display of the season in the opening 40 minutes but they kept plugging away and were awarded a penalty as the half reached its conclusion. Opoku advanced into the area and was brought down by Marshall. Tom Maddison stepped up to fire home his 10th penalty of the campaign.
Wisbech centre-half and captain Sam Spencer was injured in the build-up to the goal and had to go off. While the visitors were settling in their new defence Carlton equalised in first half stoppage time. Elliott fed Niall Davie whose cross was punched clear by Wilson. Maddison delivered a lovely deep ball which found Opoku who controlled and fired into the roof of Wilson’s net.
Notwithstanding the wind factor, there was no doubt Carlton had got away with it in the first half and at half time they brought on Ball to steady the ship at the back and Tyler Blake to add a goal threat up front.
There was an immediate change as Carlton pushed forward from the kick off in the second half. Opoku drew a fine save from Wilson on 48 minutes but 60 seconds later Carlton were ahead. Maddison lofted a ball over the Wisbech defence, Blake controlled, drew Wilson and calmly slotted home to the keeper’s right.
Three minutes later Carlton should have been awarded a second penalty when Wilson absolutely poleaxed Opoku but the referee wasn’t interested.
Wisbech responded and Draper fired just wide from 20 yards.
Opoku the fed Davie whose fierce shot was parried by Wilson. The ball fell to Oliver Clark on the left. He slipped outside his marker and tried an audacious chip which was comfortably saved.
Clark then sent Blake clear on goal. Blake pushed the ball past Wilson but a combination of the goalkeeper and Thembelani Nkala prevented him from scoring.
Carlton extended their lead on 64 minutes with their second penalty of the game. Opoku slipped the ball into the path of Clark. He was tripped by Jon Kaye and Maddison sent the keeper the wrong way again.
Opoku and Elliott then combined to chip to Clark whose sharp volley was well saved by Wilson.
If Carlton thought the game was over they were mistaken. Wisbech continued to push forward and substitute Tiago Nassunculo scored within a minute of coming on, advancing down the right and firing home at the second attempt.
It took Carlton just four minutes to restore their two goal advantage. A free kick from the left was flicked on by Daryl Thomas to Blake who headed home just inside the post.
Still the Fenman attacked and Toby Moore had to make a superb tackle to deny Sanders.
Carlton too kept attacking and they scored their sixth goal of the game in the last minute of normal time. A lovely move saw Maddison, Elloitt, Opoku and Elliott again link up before moving the ball to Thomas. He moved to the edge of the box before hitting an angled drive into the corner of the net. It was his first Carlton goal since 2009!
Quite remarkably Wisbech just kept going and grabbed a fourth goal with the last kick of the game. Sanders ran unchallenged into the area and picked his spot in the corner. It was too little too late for the visitors but was a fitting end to an eventful afternoon.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Robinson (Ball 46), Johal, Brown, Moore, Maddison, Elliott, Clark, Opoku, Davie (Thomas 77), Bako (Blake 46). Unused substitutes: Akaunu, Fletcher
Goals: Maddison 45 (pen), 64 (pen), Opoku 45, Blake 49, 82, Thomas 90; Danny Draper 12, Charley Sanders 19 (pen), 90, Tiago Nassunculo 78
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Aaron Opoku