VALLEY lost out to another late goal on Bank Holiday Monday when Carlton’s Danny Gordon struck three minutes before the end of normal time with the only goal of a generally scrappy match in the NPL South Division.
Both sides had lacked cohesion in the warm Butlin Road conditions, although the visitors’ winner did come on the back of Rugby’s best spell of the encounter.
Jason Lee returned the centre of the Town defence, meaning a switch over to full-back for Edi Appleton, with Darryl Thomas preferred to Jake Woolley in an attacking role.
Neither Nathan Fox’s swirling effort nor Andy Hall first time strike from the edge of the box troubled Carlton keeper Jack Steggles, with David Kolodynski also lifting one wide from Richard Lavery’s clever through ball in an opening to the game shaded by the hosts.
The Nottingham-based club then put in a series of off-target efforts of their own, with Kieron Walker heading wide at the back post, Niall Davie blazing over a wayward volley and Shaun Rickford also missing with a header.
The best opportunity of the opening period came just before its conclusion though, when Kolodynski nipped in behind the away defence only to see his lob towards goal cleared by Walker.
A further series of half chances materialised after the break, with Hall just unable to get on the end of Luke Smithson’s threaded pass and Gordon and Walker both failing to test Rugby keeper Louis Connor with their strikes.
Kolodynski was through again on 66 minutes, but this time Steggles got down well to save, before the striker found himself in a similar position but he was offside.
Another chance for Kolodynski followed, but he did not get a true connection to Hall’s deep cross and Steggles managed to push away the shot, with the rebound eventually falling to Appleton – whose powerful effort was tipped over the bar by the now-busy keeper.
Steggles also took a Jake Woolley shot on the turn as Valley’s decent spell continued, although there were also warning signs for James Jepson’s men at the other end as the Town defence began to look tired and stretched.
Lee had already pulled off one excellent saving tackle as the visitors broke and outnumbered the hosts, before Gordon beat Jamie Tank to Rickford’s flick-on to run on and lift the ball over Connor.