Carlton Town 1-0 Bedworth United (Northern Premier League Midlands Division) 17.08.21
An Aaron Opoku strike deep into the second half was enough to secure a first three points of the season for Carlton Town with a 1-0 win against Bedworth Utd.
The win was fully merited following a spirited display by the Millers in a game they controlled. With a little more luck and composure in front of goal they would have put the game out of reach long before the end.
Managers Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey made two changes to the side which had drawn at Shepshed last time out, with Danny Elliott and Khyle Sargent replacing Jared Holmes and James Matthews. Louis Czerwak, Tolani Omotola and Jacob Sturgess joined Matthews on the bench and they were accompanied by goalkeeper Jack Steggles following his man of the match performance for the reserves at the weekend.
Bedworth had lost on all four previous visits to Stoke Lane but came into the match on the back of a fine win against Corby Town and named an unchanged line up. But Carlton started on the front foot and were desperately unlucky not to go ahead in the third minute when a super Niall Davie free kick cannoned off the crossbar with Sam Lomax in the Greenbacks goal well beaten.
Bedworth’s only real opportunity of the half came shortly afterwards when a dangerous cross from the left was just missed by Jamal Adams at the far post.
But it was Carlton who then dominated the rest of the half, creating a number of chances but not really forcing Lomax to make any saves. Sargent fired just over the bar from the edge of the box and Nat Watson and Opoku combined with the former playing a lovely ball to the latter, only for the visitors’ defence to clear the danger.
Deon Meikle and Dan Brown looked very secure at centre half, with full backs Lawrence Gorman and Daniel Fletcher negating any threats down the wings. Elliot and Sargent controlled the midfield, with Watson and Davie buzzing around and Opoku and Tyler Blake keeping the Greenbacks defence fully occupied.
There was a blow for Carlton on the stroke of half time when Fletcher went off injured, with Sturgess coming on at left back, but the popular defender didn’t put a foot wrong and indeed went on to play a part in the decisive goal.
Early in the second half the Millers felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Opoku was shoved over by Kyle Barnett but neither referee nor linesman were interested. Moments later Davie headed the ball to Blake whose effort was cleared as far as Sargent but his shot flew just over the top.
Opoku then played a lovely ball to Watson who controlled and shot just wide of target.
By now it was all Carlton Town attacks. Bedworth were struggling to contain Opoku, and Watson and Davie were constant threats. A Davie cross was met by a clever Watson header to put opoku through, only to be denied by a close offside call.
Davie then whipped over a delightful free kick that was just begging for a final touch but no one was on hand to supply it.
Brookbanks and Harvey made a double substitution, bringing on Czerwak and Omotola in at attempt to force a break through. Elliott was next to have a go, dragging a 20-yard effort wide as Carlton poured forward.
The goal that was coming finally arrive on 75 minutes. Sturgess took a quick throw on the left to Omotola. He held the ball up before releasing Watson down the left. He darted to the by-line before whipping over a lovely ball to the back post which was gleefully fired home by Opoku in front of the delirious home support.
The goal sparked life into Bedworth and Carlton started to sit a little deeper to protect the lead. Their task was made more difficult with seven minutes remaining when Omotola went off injured. With all three substitutes having been used, the Millers were forced to play out the remainder of the game with 10 men.
In truth, it was the Millers who still continued to threaten. Czerwak was cynically chopped down on the half way line when he was about to run clear on goal and Opoku picked up a Dan Brown header and sent Watson clean through, only for Lomax to make an excellent save.
Kieran Preston had been called upon to make one difficult catch from a miscued looping defensive header, but the closest Bedworth came was in the final seconds of injury time, when Elliot Parrot looked set to score but he placed a header inches wide of the post. It was to be the final action of the game as Carlton picked up a thoroughly deserved win.
Carlton Town: Preston, Gorman, Fletcher (Sturgess 45), Brown, Meikle, Elliott, Watson, Sargent, Opoku, Blake (Omotola 70), Davie (Czerwak 70).
*Article provided by Sky Blue Miller.
*Main image @stevemack2017 the Carlton players celebrate their win.