Grantham Town 0 - 1 Carlton Town
The Gingerbreads' inability to hit the target for the 16th time in 31 matches cost them once again as Carlton Town grabbed a last minute winner on Tuesday night.
Grantham now only stay out of the bottom two on goal difference and face a nervy last seven games in their bid to avoid relegation from the Northern Premier League Eastern Division.
Manager Matt Chatfield was again left to rue missed chances from his side against their relegation rivals, writes Graham Cowell.
Action from Grantham's home defeat to Carlton. Photo: Toby Roberts (62994126)
He said: "It was awful. The back five did their job, but again, we've had no-one with the desire to put the ball in the net.
"We had chances in the first half, but didn't take them. We went too long in the second half, but were naïve in conceding late on when a point was there to be had."
Grantham showed some energy early in the game and, after eight minutes, Mason Lee found space on the right to deliver a cross, but Kieran Hayes was just beaten to the low ball at the near post.
In an opening to the game that showed little quality, Carlton tried their luck when Nathan Watson cut inside and teed up Niall Davie whose shot was straight at a well placed Dan Haystead in the Grantham goal.
Midway through the first half, Grantham were dominant in possession, but were only creating half chances for themselves.
After 26 minutes, Hayes put in a cross that found Chris O'Grady whose first touch from a good position was poor and the Carlton defence snuffed out the danger.
Action from Grantham's home defeat to Carlton. Photo: Toby Roberts (62994122)
Two minutes later, Damien McCrory got round the back of the visitors defence and crossed for Hayes but again the Millers defence blocked his effort and scrambled the ball away.
Carlton had the odd chance in the first half and, with 11 minutes to go, a break down the Grantham right saw a cross delivered for Davie whose header was poor and Grantham cleared the danger.
A long clearance was flicked on by O'Grady and a poor back-pass from Dan Brown almost let Lee in, but Carlton goalkeeper Mike Emery raced off his line and just got to the ball before the Grantham player.
The visitors came out more determined after the break and only took a minute to create their first opening of the second period.
Alex Troke laid the ball off for Davie out wide and he beat Ashton Hall and drilled a cross in to the near post that Haystead stopped, but conceded a corner.
From that, the Grantham goalkeeper had to react quickly to punch away a far post header from Kyle Tomlin.
The second half developed into a stalemate of head tennis and long ball as neither side showed much quality of football.
On 65 minutes, a lovely crossfield ball found Josh Waldram who took on the Carlton defence and laid the ball back for Matt Tootle, but he fired well over the Millers' crossbar.
The game came to life with 20 minutes to go.
Davie went on a run that took him past three Grantham defenders, but he hit his shot wide the post.
A Grantham free-kick was won by Hall ahead of Carlton goalkeeper Emery, but rolled four yards past the post.
With a quarter-of-an-hour to go, the sides traded chances as Grantham twice gave the visitors good openings.
Joe Stacey lost the ball just outside his own penalty area, but did enough to recover the situation before the visitors could get a shot away.
A quick Carlton break almost caught Grantham out, but they recovered enough in the end.
Between the two Carlton chances, the Gingerbreads had an opportunity of their own as Lee played a good pass to Waldram and his cross was just right for Lee Shaw.
However, Emery just beat Shaw to the ball, and then was part of the block that denied Hayes on the follow-up. On 76 minutes, it was Lee’s turn to have an effort blocked by Emery at the expense of a corner.
In a familiar story, Shaw went close for Grantham with a couple of minutes left.
Tootle picked out Shaw with a great pass and he took the ball round Emery, but the angle was too sharp and he missed the target.
As the game went into injury time, Carlton got the important goal.
Watson was allowed to drift across the Grantham penalty area before laying the ball off to Davie. He in turn played in Oliver Wilson who delivered a cross to the far post where Watson had drifted to and he powerfully headed past Haystead.
There was no time for Grantham to get back on level terms and they could have conceded a second goal as they pushed for an equaliser.
Watson led the break and set up Davie, but despite a clear view of goal, he fired wide and Carlton had to settle for the one goal win.
Gingerbreads: Haystead, Tootle, Stacey, McCrory, Wright, Hall, Hayes, Waldram, O'Grady (Shaw), Durell (Cocks), Lee. Subs not used: Tyson, Jemson, Munns. Attendance: 226.