Carlton Town continued their dream start to the season with a 1-0 win at Worksop Town.
Martin Ball’s 86th minute header was no more than the Millers deserved and maintained Carlton’s 100% away record, with five wins from five on the road and no goals conceded.
The victory combined with other results also saw Carlton extend their lead at the top of the table to three points from Leek and Cleethorpes.
Managers Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey made three changes from the side which had beaten Bedford Town last time out. Captain Tom Maddison was suspended and Niall Davie was absent. Both have been influential this campaign and were replaced by Tyler Johal and Elvis Otim. In addition there was the now customary swap at right back with Dan Brown giving way to Oliver Robinson.
Wearing a resplendent new blue third kit Carlton had the best of the opening exchanges against the only side thus far to beat them in the league. Tyler Blake ran through on goal in just the sixth minute from a Daniel Fletcher pass. He held off Max Pemberton but goalkeeper David Reay was equal to his effort and palmed the shot away.
Fletcher and Johal were combining well down the left and they created an opening for Oliver Clark. The midfielder turned beautifully and crossed only for the impressive Pemberton to clear.
Aaron Opoku was once again having a fine game, drawing multiple fouls from the Worksop defence who struggled to deal with him. On 14 minutes Fletcher played the ball to him, he turned inside the area and shot low and hard but Reay made a fine save.
Next it was Danny Elliott’s turn to feed Opoku and when he slipped the ball left to Johal, the wide-man’s shot was inches wide.
Little had been seen of the Tigers as an attacking force until midway through the half but they went desperately close to scoring on 29 minutes. A ball played in from the left found Lynton Karkach at the far post and his shot was turned onto the post by Jack Steggles at point blank range.
The home side then sent a series of long throws and high balls into the penalty area, somewhat reminiscent of Carlton’s style last season, but Toby Moore and Ball dealt with everything. Ball in particular was having another outstanding game at the heart of the defence.
Fletcher had to be alert to head over his own bar after another long throw while Robinson was dealing with the threat on the floor down the Worksop left.
Moore headed just wide of goal from an Elliott corner on the stroke of half time and two minutes into the second half repeated the feat.
Steve McDonnell tried a spectacular overhead kick on 52 minutes following a long throw and it only just went over the bar.
Luke Smithson came on for the injured Clark early in the half and he looked good, adding some threat in the wide right position.
Elliott and Smithson combined almost immediately for Johal who shot just wide, whilst at the other end an angled drive by Deegan Atherton just cleared the bar.
Carlton gave a debut to new signing Eli Baku and he had an impressive 20 minute cameo, moving the ball neatly. Some lovely Carlton football led to a Smithson cross. Opoku and Blake then combined before Johal saw another shot deflected to safety.
Carlton’s final change saw Daryl Thomas replace Opoku and Thomas almost scored with virtually his first touch. Blake, energetic all game, chased down Danny Patterson and the Millers regained possession. Johal fed Thomas who played a lovely ball out to Smithson. His cross found Thomas completely unmarked but he put his header wide to his obvious frustration.
With four minutes remaining the Millers finally made the breakthrough. Some more excellent football from Smithson and Blake saw Carlton earn a corner. Johal’s pin-point delivery found Ball whose bullet header flew into the back of the net to spark wild celebrations amongst the 30 or so visiting supporters in an excellent crowd of 441.
Carlton saw out the five minutes of added time comfortably, with Thomas in particular giving a masterclass on how to keep winning throw-ins in the corner. Indeed, Carlton could have extended their lead when Thomas put Blake clean through on goal but Reay once again made a superb save.
It mattered not as the players rightfully celebrated another fine win with the entire squad coming over the thank the travelling supporters behind the goal.
Carlton Town: Steggles, Robinson, Fletcher, Ball, Moore, Otim (Baku 68), Elliott, Clark (Smithson 55), Opoku (Thomas 78), Blake, Johal. Unused substitutes: Brown, Akaunu.
Goals: Ball 86
Carlton Town Supporters Club MOTM: Martin Ball