Loughborough Dynamo 2-2 Carlton Town (Northern Premier League Midlands Division) 22.01.22
Goals from Nat Watson and Tom Maddison were enough to earn Carlton Town a point in a 2-2 draw at Loughborough Dynamo.
The Millers left the Nanpantan ground knowing they really ought to have taken all three points. Nevertheless, it was Dynamo who had the clearest chance to win the game in added time and so Carlton will be pleased to have maintained their unbeaten start to 2022.
With goalkeeper Kieran Preston having been recalled by Basford Utd in the week, there was a debut for new signing Mark Rathbone. He was one of three changes to the side which had beaten Wisbech last time out with Danny Elliott and Niall Davie making way for Jared Holmes and Maddison.
Loughborough featured ex-Millers Rob Norris and Robbie McNicholas in their starting eleven, but there was no place for the injured Danny Gordon.
The Millers went at Dynamo from the kick off and were ahead inside four minutes. Watson played a fine pass to Aaron Opoku who turned inside before slipping the ball to Watson who rifled the ball past Jason Alexander in the Dynamo goal.
Moments later Carlton almost doubled their lead. A free kick into the box was headed across goal by Khyle Sargent. Toby Moore’s shot was blocked but the centre-half was able to feed Opoku whose shot drew an excellent save from Alexander.
There was an early changed forced on the Millers when Aaron O’Connor pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury and he was replaced by Tyler Blake.
Dynamo created their first opportunity on 19 minutes when Kevin Da Silva Bastos accelerated down the right and hit a shot the flew across the face of goal.
Carlton felt they should have been awarded a penalty on 21 minutes. A lovely passage of play led to Maddison sending Lawrence Gorman away on the right. His cross was clearly handled by Norris in the area but the referee waved away Carlton’s claims.
Dynamo took full advantage as they counter-attacked at pace. Bastos went down under challenge from Dan Brown and the referee awarded the home side a penalty of their own. Curtis Burrows sent Rathbone the wrong way to equalise.
Carlton responded and Watson put a free kick just wide of the post but the precision passing that had illuminated their start to the game and gone somewhat flat and Loughborough were able to impose themselves on the game.
They duly took the lead on 32 minutes with a goal that was the result of some slapdash defending. There seemed little danger when a long ball was knocked forward but Moore missed it and with Rathbone a long way off his line Kyle Jardine had the presence of mind to simply lift the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and into the empty net.
Watson almost levelled straight away when he shot at goal following a Maddison cross flicked on by Opoku but once again Alexander made a fine save.
Moore then did really well to dispossess the dangerous Bastos as Loughborough looked to extend their lead.
The home side were desperately close to doing just that shortly before half time. Rathbone came out to clear a long ball ahead of Bastos who looked yards offside. There was no flag and Rathbone’s clearance went straight to Burrows who immediately volleyed the ball back towards the goal in a carbon-copy of Loughborough’s second goal. This time however the ball bounced up onto the crossbar with Rathbone well beaten and, thankfully from a Carlton perspective, dropped behind the goal for a goal-kick.
Martin Ball came on at half time and the Millers dominated possession in the second half but struggled to pass the ball as well as they had in the opening quarter of the game and struggled to create clear opportunities to test Alexander. Credit should go to the Dynamo defence, who worked incredibly hard to try and protect their advantage.
Opoku drew a decent save from Alexander on 50 minutes and Watson failed to make a clean connection with a volleyed effort just after the hour.
The Millers did equalise on 70 minutes when Sargent headed a Watson corner back across goal and Maddison fired home at the far post to the delight of the travelling support.
From then on it was all Carlton as the Millers looked to get the winner. Watson and Sargent combined to slip the ball to Blake on the left and his shot looked a certain goal until a superb save from Alexander, using his foot to divert the ball over the bar.
Sargent again teed up Watson and only an excellent block by Stephen Akbas denied Carlton. Tyler Johal, impressive throughout, then darted into the area but his shot flew just wide.
Loughborough knew a goal of their own would win the game and only a goal line clearance from Brown denied them from a late corner.
Having used all three substitutes, Carlton were forced to play the injured Johal up front for the final 10 minutes, with Niall Davie moving to left back.
And as the game entered the final minute of added time Burrows ran onto a ball in from the right and had a clear sight of goal. It looked like a match winning move but the striker blasted his effort wide of target and the Millers were grateful to have secured the point.
Carlton Town: Rathbone, Gorman, Johal, Brown, Moore (Ball 46), Holmes (Davie 65), Watson, Maddison, Opoku, O’Connor (Blake 11), Sargent.
*Article provided by Sky Blue Miller.
*Main image @leebosher entertaining derby action from the Nanpantan Ground.