There was plenty of hope for Carlton Town at half time at the Linden stadium, with the Millers leading Cleethorpes Town by two goals to nil thanks to a mightily impressive brace from Tyler Blake.
But that hope was gone quicker than the half time cup of tea as Cleethorpes were level within eight minutes of the restart and went onto win the match 4-2.
On a lovely surface in bright sunshine Carlton came out of the blocks on fire. In just the second minute Blake advanced to the edge of the area and hit a fierce drive that Theo Richardson tipped around the post with a superb save.
At the other end Austin made a superb tackle to deny Scott Vernon.
Blake should have opened the scoring on nine minutes. A back pass was mis-controlled by Richardson and Blake looked certain to score, only to be denied by another excellent stop from the goalkeeper.
The keeper was finally beaten on just 11 minutes as Carlton took the lead. Opoku held up the ball in midfield before playing the ball wide to Ben Hutchinson. Hutchinson lofted a lovely ball forward to Blake, who controlled it with his chest, outpaced Paul Walker and then fired a magnificent half-volley past Richardson.
Edward Clarke had to be alert to block Daniel North while Walker hit an audacious chip just over the bar, before the same player headed straight at Jack Steggles.
McNicholas was having an impressive game alongside Oliver Clark in midfield and Carlton were looking competitive all over the pitch, with Edward Clarke having an excellent game at centre-half.
Ebanks won a header on the half way line which Opoku then held up and lifted a shot just over the bar.
With half time approaching Hutchinson headed to Oliver Clark whose angled drive drew another fine save from Richardson.
Still Carlton came forward and they doubled their lead just a minute before half time. Edward Clarke played the ball to Hutchinson who found Blake in the Owls half. Blake did really well to hold the ball up before feeding Opoku. Opoku did even better, fending off Walker and Oli Donald before slipping a reverse pass into the path of Blake, who was coolness personified as he drew Richardson and then fired across him into the corner of the net. It was an outstanding goal.
Cleethorpes responded and Jack Steggles produced a point blank save from a fierce North drive before the referee blew for half time.
Cleethorpes had plainly been given a rocket at half-time for underestimating Carlton and came out in the second period determined to make amends. Carlton couldn’t match them. Tim Lowe, impressive in the Owls’ win at Stoke Lane in January was pushed into midfield and Cleethorpes took control.
Jonathan Oglesby tapped in unmarked at the near post on 51 minutes to reduce the arrears. He then linked with Daniel North before the latter fired into the top corner two minutes later to level the scores.
McNicholas forced Richardson into a comfortable save while Opoku was inches away from getting a decent connection on another Hutchinson header as Carlton tried to regain the lead, but the match had already slipped away from them and the only question was whether they had the heart / ability to keep hold of a point. They didn’t.
Steggles made a fine save from Jack Richardson before the Owls took the lead on 82 minutes. Lowe ran forward unchallenged for 20-30 yards before hitting a rocket that Steggles got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.
The win was sealed with two minutes remaining when Joshua Batty glanced a header beyond Steggles into the net.
At the final whistle the Millers players sloped off without as much as a backward glance at those who had travelled to support them.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Ebanks, Austin, Ikwa, E Clarke, Walker, McNicholas, O Clark, Blake, Hutchinson, Opoku. Unused substitutes: Moore, Robinson, Frost, Stovell
Goals: Blake 11, 44; Jonathan Oglesby 51, Daniel North 53, Tim Lowe 82, Joshua Batty 88