Carlton Town’s defence of the Notts Senior Cup ended with a 2-1 semi-final defeat at Dunkirk, writes Alan Murphy
The Boatmen, who play their football in the East Midlands Counties league, two levels below the Millers, were full value for their win as they outplayed and, more importantly, outfought Carlton on the night. It is they who will now take on Basford Utd in the final.
Wayne Scott made one change from the side which won against Belper last time out, with Eddie Schoenecker replacing the suspended Darol Lucas. That meant that Niall Davie started the game at right back.
Dunkirk featured ex-Carlton legend Steve Chaplin and another former Miller, Daryll Thomas in their starting line-up.
Carlton began well and had an excellent chance to open the scoring in the first minute when Jordan Wilson was sent clean through on goal. The striker’s effort was saved by Ryan Howes and the chance was gone.
Ben Hutchinson then showed some lovely control of a high ball before sending Wilson away down the left. His cross was destined for Mamoke Akaunu until captain Adam Burton’s last ditch clearance.
The Boatmen were clearly up for the battle and there were some feisty exchanges on the sticky pitch. They were also gaining a measure of control and started to push Carlton back.
They came desperately close to opening the scoring shortly before half time. A cross from the right hand side saw Chaplin fire at goal at the near post, only for Steggles to produce a magnificent save. The ball was played back in and Thomas fired over the bar from close range.
Akaunu, suffering from illness, was replaced at half-time by Aaron Hooton but it was the home side who struck first on 48 minutes. A cross from the right to the near post saw Lewis Wilcox convert at the second attempt.
Carlton responded immediately and were level within four minutes. Kaylum Mitchell crossed from the right, the Dunkirk defence hesitated and Hooton forced the ball home from inside the six-yard box.
The Millers had a glorious chance to take the lead five minutes later. Wilson flicked the ball over the onrushing Howes to be presented with an open goal from a narrowing angle. He elected to shoot rather than take a touch and he fired wide of target.
Dunkirk took full advantage and regained the lead on 66 minutes. Chaplin was fouled in the far left corner and when the free kick was delivered into the mixer, Oliver Clarke headed home at the far post.
Carlton huffed and puffed in an attempt to force extra-time and with two minutes remaining they should have levelled. A long throw by Kieran Walker found substitute William Mellors-Blair in front of goal. His header looped upwards and was partially cleared. The ball was played back into the area where a deft flick from Hooton sent Mellors-Blair through on goal. Howes came off his line and Mellors-Blair poked a weak effort wide of target.
In added time Carlton’s misery was complete when Riece Betram was sent off for the second time this season for a late tackle.