Carlton Town 2-2 Sporting Khalsa (Northern Premier League Midlands Division) 08.02.22
Carlton Town let slip a two goal lead on Tuesday night as they drew 2-2 with Sporting Khalsa at Stoke Lane.
The Millers had started in dominant fashion and first half strikes from Aaron O’Connor and Aaron Opoku had put the home side in control of the game. But Gurjit Singh pulled one back before the break and it was no great surprise on the balance of play when James McGrady levelled with eight minutes remaining.
Tommy Brookbanks and Mark Harvey made four changes to the side which had lost at Histon last time out. In came Lawrence Gorman, Danny Elliott, Tom Maddison and O’Connor. They replaced Toby Moore, Jared Holmes, Tyler Blake and Niall Davie.
In blustery conditions Carlton almost got off to the perfect start when, on 3 minutes, Opoku surged through the midfield before O’Connor took the ball on, outpaced the defence but struck his effort fractionally wide of the post.
Goalkeeper Sam Arnold then did well to intercept a dangerous Opoku cross.
The Millers looked full of energy and were clearly looking to make up for the disappointment of the Histon showing. But Khalsa had the odd moment and Josh McKenzie hit a fierce shot just beyond the post.
Back came Carlton and Nat Watson played a delightful pass to send Opoku clean through on goal, only for Arnold to make an excellent save.
A goal always looked likely and it duly arrived on 26 minutes. Tyler Johal darted down the left before crossing to Opoku who teed up O’Connor to fire the ball home from 10 yards. It was a lovely move and the lead was well deserved.
Eight minutes later it was 2-0. Maddison played a defence-splitting pass that once again sent Opoku away, this time on the left. He drew Arnold before slipping the ball past him and into the net.
At that stage it was all Carlton but Khalsa struck back within two minutes when Singh was allowed far too much space on the right and he hit an angled drive across Mark Rathbone and into the net.
The visitors were buoyed and almost levelled four minutes later. A deep cross from the left was kept in play and when the ball was played back in from the right, Todd Ferrier looked odds-on to score, only to be denied by a magnificent save from Rathbone.
The Millers were forced into a change on 54 minutes when Martin Ball went off injured. With no centre-halves on the bench, Gorman moved into that position with Maddison moving to right back and Holmes being brought on in midfield.
The balance of play by then had shifted in favour of the visitors, who were using the full width of the pitch. Nevertheless, the Carlton defence were keeping them at bay, with Dan Brown and Khyle Sargent as industrious as ever.
Carlton brought on Niall Davie to increase the attacking threat and it almost paid off immediately when he ran onto a Holmes pass and rounded Arnold. He was about to pull the trigger when Arnold recovered to claim the ball at Davie’s feet.
Minutes later a Davie corner really should have been converted but it was missed by everyone and flew across the face of goal.
Forward when Sporting and Maddison did very well to head clear following another cross from the right.
McGrady then showed superb skill to bring down a high pass and create an excellent chance for himself, only to balloon the ball high over the crossbar.
If Carlton thought that was the let-off, they were mistaken as within a minute Khalsa were level when McGrady headed home a cross from the right.
The Millers spent the final minuets defending a series of Khalsa attacks with Brown heading off the line as the home side secured a point.
Carlton Town: Rathbone, Gorman, Johal, Ball (Holmes 54), Brown, Elliott (Davie 60), Watson, Maddison, Opoku (Blake 78), O’Connor, Sargent.
*Article provided by Sky Blue Miller.
*Main image @CarltonFans A fightback from Khalsa ensured a share of spoils at the Bill Stokeld Stadium.