Battle of the Millers ends in a stalemate

Carlton Town 1, New Mills AFC 1

THE BATTLE of The Millers ended in a largely uneventful stalemate at Stoke Lane on Saturday.

With goalkeeper James Coates unavailable due to a knee ligament injury picked up at Grantham, Craig Alford played in his rightful position between the sticks after filling in as an emergency centre-half in the midweek game. Also unavailable for New Mills were Antony Field, Mark Innes and Luke Horrocks.

It became obvious in the early stages of the game that the combination of a blustery wind and an uneven playing surface would be a major leveller for both sides. Nonetheless Matthew Berkeley had the first opportunity of the game in the sixth minute when he cleverly turned his marker from a throw-in and fizzed his effort just wide of the upright.

Barring a dangerous Dan Fletcher cross which was well defended by full-back James Moss, Carlton weren’t posing much of a threat up front and they fell behind just after the quarter hour mark.

Ben Deegan’s cross found the lively Leon Grandison in space and whilst the striker didn’t get the best connection, his shot caused confusion and panic in the home defence. Keeper Andrew Richmond seemed to be hindered by his own defender as he tried to collect the ball which became loose just a matter of yards from goal and Carlos Meakin didn’t need a second invitation to slot home his 16 Evo-Stik League goal of the season from close range.

As the first half came to a conclusion, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, who stands second in the goalscoring charts, shot straight at Craig Alford when well placed and Matthew Millns clipped the outside of the post, but New Mills deservedly led at the interval.

Meakin had a decent chance to double the visitors’ advantage eight minutes into the second half but with time and space around the edge of the box, the skipper uncharacteristically failed to hit the target and dragged his effort wide of the upright.

New Mills’ cause wasn’t helped by the withdrawal of centre-half Tony Barras with a back problem and the tactical reshuffle this substitution caused, combined with the introduction of fresh faces for Carlton, gave the home side extra attacking impetus.

Wiggins-Thomas had a goal chalked off for offside but the equaliser arrived for the home side in the 66th minute. Ex-Buxton player Anton Foster floated in a corner which was deftly flicked on at the near post by Joe Naylor and the ball managed to evade everybody and quietly nestled in the corner of the net.

Both sides had presentable opportunities late on as firstly Wiggins-Thomas narrowly headed over followed by Matthew Berkeley stinging Andrew Richmond’s palms with a well-drilled shot. Meakin showed his versatility with two important pieces of defending in stoppage time but ultimately a draw was a fair result between two evenly-matched sides.

New Mills: Alford, Bowler, Moss, Chadwick, Barras (Pickering), Swirad, Meakin, Edridge, Deegan, Berkeley, Grandison. Unused subs: Allen, Coates.