Goals in either half from Martin Ball and Tyler Johal saw Carlton Town return to the top of the table with a 2-0 win at Chasetown.
The win was no more than Carlton deserved following another excellent performance. But for some wasteful finishing and some inspired goalkeeping by home keeper Curtis Pond, the Millers would have been out of sight long before Johal secured the three minutes from time.
The question being asked by Carlton supporters before the game was whether the team was the real deal? Chasetown away would provide a real test of the team’s credentials. The answer was an emphatic “yes” as the Millers turned in arguably their best display of the campaign to make it four wins out of four on the road with not a single goal conceded.
Managers Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey made one change to the side which beat St Neots last time out. In came Oliver Robinson at right back in place of Dan Brown.
In an even opening period of the game Chasetown had the first chance when Liam Kirton saw a fierce shot well-held by Jack Steggles.
The Millers responded and Niall Davie, excellent throughout, darted past Levi Reid before slipping the ball to Danny Elliott. He in turn fed Oliver Clark who shot just over the bar.
The Scholars claimed a penalty on 25 minutes following a challenge between Robinson and Danny Cocks but the referee wasn’t interested.
Davie then should have put the visitors ahead on 26 minutes. He picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, dropped his shoulder to send William Whieldon the wrong way before running through clear on goal but Pond got a hand to his shot to turn it away for a corner.
Clark then lifted the ball into the area where Aaron Opoku out-muscled Whieldon. He fired at goal at an angle and drew another fine save from Pond.
By now it was all Carlton and Daniel Fletcher won the ball in midfield before playing it to Davie. He slipped in Opoku who held off Reid before firing just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Chasetown were under the cosh but created an excellent chance of their own with some fine football down the right. Kirton fed George Cater in the area but Cater’s shot was weak and comfortably saved by Steggles.
Back came Carlton and Opoku was causing the home defence all sorts of problems. He cut in from the left before crossing the ball. Pond palmed it away only to Davie whose shot was blocked by Alexander Curtis saving a certain goal.
The breakthrough came on 43 minutes. Elliott, along with Clark and Tom Maddison controlling the midfield, won a fine tackle before moving the ball left to Fletcher. He found Opoku who was brought down by Thomas Urwin 30 yards from goal. Up stepped Davie whose pinpoint free kick found Ball who made no mistake with a powerful header from six yards.
Toby Moore made an excellent block from Kirton as the Scholars almost levelled immediately but there was still time for Pond to make another save, this time from Davie, after some more fine work from Elliott, Fletcher, Maddison and Opoku in the build-up.
Chasetown began the second half on the front foot and Steggles made a good save with his feet from Kirton.
Carlton though created the best chances and when Davie beat the otherwise excellent Ryan Wynter to a Ball free kick he had a clear sight of goal. However, with Pond bearing down, he fired high over the bar and spent some time being treated after a heavy collision with the goalkeeper.
Maddison then found Opoku whose shot was saved with Elliott’s follow-up also blocked.
Fletcher then found Tyler Blake. He played a superb pass to Opoku who chested the ball past Wynter before shooting hard and low only to be denied by another great stop from Pond.
Still Carlton came forward and when Davie won the ball on the right he found Opoku. The striker turned Whieldon, ran into the area and then crossed. Blake was all alone six yards out and looked certain to score, only for the ball to run between his feet and be cleared.
Carlton replaced Opoku on 69 minutes and without his ability to hold up play, the game moved towards the Carlton goal.
Steggles was called upon to make an excellent save on 75 minutes from Cocks, holding onto the ball at the second attempt.
As the game entered the final few minutes it was getting nervy for the travelling support as Chasetown came forward. The Carlton defence held its nerve, with Robinson and Fletcher dealing with the threats from the wings and Ball, Moore and Maddison outstanding in the middle.
Those nerves were settled with a fine second goal on 87 minutes. Substitute Mamoke Akaunu won a throw in on the right. Fellow substitute Luke Smithson combined with Robinson before Robinson went on a superb run to the bye-line. Under pressure from Curtis and Urwin he cut into the area, kept his footing before firing a low cross to the third substitute Johal who rifled home at the near post to scenes of wild celebration from the travelling support.
Chasetown had one final effort when Whieldon hit a 25-yarder just wide while Carlton saw out the final minutes with some fine possession football to cap an excellent display.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Robinson, Fletcher, Ball, Moore, Maddison, Elliott (Smithson 77), Clark, Opoku (Akaunu 69), Blake (Johal 78), Davie. Unused substitutes: Brown, Thomas.
Goals: Ball 43, Johal 87.
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Oliver Robinson