Carlton Turn To County Cup After Tough Campaign

This season’s Nottinghamshire FA Senior Cup will be contested between Carlton Town, of the Northern Premier League East Division, and Newark & Sherwood United, of the United Counties League Premier North, both sides having overcome stern opposition in their respective semi-finals.

Carlton, having won the Senior Cup last season, defeated a strong, Mansfield Town side, at the One Call Stadium, their ‘keeper, Mike Emery, netting from the spot in normal time, before doing so again in the shoot-out to progress 4-2 on penalties, following a 1-1 draw.

Newark & Sherwood United meanwhile, they defeated Nottingham Forest U23s at home, 2-0, thanks to goals from Nyle Blake and James Gardner, to join their higher ranked opponents in the showpiece final.

For Carlton though, the run to the final, which has seen them defeat Southwell City 5-0, and Dunkirk 1-0, before the semi-final success, could not have been much harder for co-manager, Mark Harvey and Tommy Brookbanks.

The Millers have endured a relegation battle all season long, having started the campaign with numerous injuries, which in turn affected their league form; it took until the closing weeks of the season before the management duo, who’ve a lot of footballing experience between, pulled off the great escape.

A combination of on-field miracles, and a last minute reprieve from the Football Association, kept them up.

“We pulled off a Houdini act, and, with ten games to go, we were still adrift in the relegation places,” admitted co-manager, Harvey, when looking back.

“Even after that, we still didn’t know what was happening until the middle of last week.

“We’d come in on the Wednesday for training, as we were expecting to be in the play-off on the Saturday (then the FA relegated North Shields, who finished in seventh, and Carlton Town were afforded a reprieve).

“We’ve benefitted from the decision, and we’re extremely grateful for that, although we’re still not sure what league we’ll be in next season, enduring the same situations with that, as we had last season.”

The North Shields decision is certainly a one which Harvey, Brookbanks, and the entire Millers support are grateful for, although they do feel for the north-east side. Time moves on though and, the season in which the Millers have endured, is something they don’t want to happen again, any time soon.

“It’s been a torrid time (this season) and we’ve suffered quite a bit with injuries,” continued Harvey.

“We had nine players out at the start of the campaign, and it was not until February-time before we got our best three on the pitch at the same time.

“It also got to a stage that, ironically, against North Shields, we were seven points adrift and began to realise that we really had to do something about it.

“We managed to bring in a couple of new players, and went on to pick up nineteen points from ten games – we (Harvey and Brookbanks) do have to give the lads credit through, for the players lifting themselves out of this mess.”

The NPL East division, completely different to their tenure in the Midlands version, has been completely dominated by a fellow Notts club in Worksop Town, they having completely walked away with it.

But, heading towards next season, the Millers are still unsure where they’ll reside next season, Harvey, as well as paying tribute to the championship-winning Tigers, added about that: “Worksop Town, they’re head and shoulders above the rest of the division, and this division.

“It’s much tougher than the Midlands one we were transferred over from.

“There’s been a baptism of fire, and we went into the season blind, with no contacts, and not knowing any of the clubs; we’re much better equipped now though.”

And then there’s the Nottinghamshire Senior Cup final, to be played at the Halbrooke Stadium on the night of Tuesday 2 April.

Aaron Opoku’s hat-trick, in the 5-0 demolition of Southwell, set the Millers on their way in the defence of the trophy they won last time around; Kyle Sargent netted the only goal of the game in the win over Dunkirk, before ‘that’ semi-final win over a strong Stags side.

Looking ahead to the final, Harvey added that: “(The Notts Senior Cup) we won last year’s competition having beaten both (Nottingham) Forest, and Mansfield and, to play the Stags, at their place, this season.

“We were on the crest of a big slump at the time, and ended up beating them on penalties.

“We’d missed something like, eight spot-kicks in a row, but then Mike (‘keeper Michael Emery) stepped up and has netted a few, including two in the semi-final (one during the ninety minutes, one in the shoot-out).

“We’ve been scratching our heads since as to where that win came from, especially as went on to lose the next three games also.

“We can’t approach this (against Newark & Sherwood United) as just another game though, and I’m sure they aren’t either.

“We’ll go into though, as a rarity, favourites, and it’s a massive opportunity for them to get a higher level scalp.

“But, we want to retain the cup, and doing so will make this look a much better season for us.

“It’ll be a tough, tight game though, and they’ve had a decent season themselves, so, fair play to them for getting here as well.”

Carlton Town play Newark & Sherwood United in the Nottinghamshire FA Senior Cup final, at the Halbrooke Stadium, KO:19:45; keep up-to-date with all things Carlton Town via their socials on Facebook here and Twitter here, whilst you can also visit their website HERE.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @CTFC1904 Nat Watson will be hoping to help Carlton to cup final victory.

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