Carlton Town conceded three times in the opening 18 minutes as they went down 4-2 at Pontefract Collieries.
Although the Millers went onto make a game of it thanks to two penalties, the home side always looked dangerous and wrapped up the win with a fourth goal midway through the second half.
On a heavy pitch the home side started much the better and opened the scoring on eight minutes. Michael Dunn picked up the ball on the left side of the penalty area, held off a fairly weak challenge and fired into the top corner past Jack Steggles.
Within two minutes Colls had doubled their lead. Oliver Clark lost possession in midfield and Pontefract moved the ball from left to right. Vaughan Redford slipped the ball towards Eli Hey, Kieran Walker missed his kick and Hey took the ball around Steggles to slot home.
Carlton’s afternoon went from bad to worse on 18 minutes. Gavin Rothery’s cross from the left wasn’t cleared and Redford had time to fire low past Steggles.
At that stage it was looking embarrassing for the Millers but they were handed a lifeline two minutes later with the award of a dubious penalty. Opoku ran into the area, may have been pushed by Connor Smythe but kept his footing only to go down under challenge from goalkeeper Ryan Musselwhite diving at his feet.
The referee awarded a penalty seemingly for Musselwhite’s challenge albeit the Pontefract goalkeeper clearly got the ball. Either way, Opoku wasn’t complaining and he fired past the keeper from the spot.
The Millers pulled a second goal back within two minutes of the second half with a second penalty. Opoku once again earned the decision when he was hacked down by Jake Picton. There was no doubt about this award and Ben Hutchinson fired home.
Steggles then made a great save low to his right from Hey as Ponte responded immediately, whilst Musselwhite made a good save from a Hutchinson effort.
The home side restored their two-goal advantage on 62 minutes with a quick breakaway goal. Hutchinson’s pass was cut out as Carlton attacked. Pontefract moved quickly down the left and when Rothery tempted Ebanks into a lunge on the half way line he slipped the ball past him and raced into the Carlton half unhindered. He squared the ball to Hey who steered the ball into the corner.
Both benches had been giving the referee the benefit of their views on his performance and by 69 minutes he’d had enough, sending one of the Pontefract bench off. In truth he could have sent off the entire dugouts from both teams as each complained bitterly about inconsequential trivialities.
Carlton continued to huff and puff but created little of note form open play, with an effort that was high and wide from Henry Rollinson the nearest to a shot on target.
Pontefract had an obvious plan – move the ball quickly on possession being turned over, get it wide to the dangerous Rothery and see what would result. Carlton tried to disrupt that by blocking the quick release of the ball but the home side were able to see the rest of the game out in relative comfort.