WOEFUL defending followed a failure to make periods of dominance pay as the Rocks’ poor start to the season continued.
Two Craig Robson goals - both from corners - meant they led Carshalton 2-1 at half-time, and that was still the score with 12 minutes left. But the longer the game went on with only one goal in it, the less secure the lead looked.
And sure enough, the Surrey side - without a point before this - scored three times in the final stages of the game - to leave the Rocks one off the bottom and with only one point from their first four Ryman premier games.
They have problems at both ends of the pitch, for although the end result here was ultimately down to weak defending, the game coulf have been won much earlier if they had turned good phases of play into more chances and more than the two goals they did manage through defender Robson.
There’s plenty for the management to think about ahead of what looks another tough assignment on Saturday - the Met Police’s visit to the Lane.
The Rocks gave a debut to former Lewes and Whitehawk striker Ben Godfrey, but defender Jon Marzetti, who picked up a gashed leg in the defeat at Lowestoft at the weekend, was only fit enough to be on the bench.
Aaron Hopkinson was first to threaten an opening goal, taking a pass in his stride to beat his man and fire a left-footed effort from 15 yards which was straight at Carshalton keeper Michael McEntegart in the fifth minute.
It was a tidy enough start from the Rocks, who seemed capable of bossing the play and containing anything Athletic could throw at them, but in truth neither goalkeeper saw much early action.
There was promise for the Rocks on 16 minutes when Doug Tuck played a beautifully-timed pass out to Hopkinson on the right - but his early low ball in aimed at Harvey Whyte was cut out by the keeper.
A minute later, Terry Dodd almost headed the Rocks into the lead when he nipped in front of keeper McEntegart to glance an effort goalwards but it took a slight deflection and went for a corner.
From the corner, though, taken by Kane Wills, Robson volleyed through a crowd of players to give the Rocks the 18th-minute lead - their first home goal of the season.
That brought the crowd to life but in less than a minute, it was Carshalton who were celebrating as Julian Owusu was allowed a free run at the defence and beat Mark Zawadski with a fine left-footed strike from outside the box.
The Rocks must have been stung by that and they went straight back on the attack, Whyte denied from long-range by a defender’s block.
They were back in front in the 26th minute, again thanks to Robson converting a Wills corner. This time it was a towering header that gave the keeper no chance.
The Rocks have long wanted more of a threat from their centre-halves at set-pieces - in Robson, they appear to have found just the man to deliver it.
Dodd looped a header against the bar on 33 minutes as the Rocks continued to have the best of a well-contested game.
Godfrey had had a quiet first half but did well to set up Whyte with an accurate ball across the box - but Whyte’s shot was blocked.
Carshalton went straight up the other end and Kieran Woodley had only Zawadski to beat but curled a shot into the near-post side netting.
Harold Odanetey was allowed a free far-post header from a corner but it lacked power and was easily held by Zawadski.
The Surrey visitors were making a fight of it but full-back Mark Goodman was over-ambitious with a left-foot drive after cutting inside from the right wing.
Odanetey tried a shot on the turn from 22 yards after a team-mate’s shot cannoned into him, but it was well wide.
Athletic made a change for the start of the second half, with Stephen Butterworth replacing Matthew Males.
Hopkinson had a great opening a couple of minutes into the half but having got to the byline down the right, couldn’t find a white and green shirt with the pull-back.
Immediately at the other end, Owusu was denied by a last-ditch Stuart Axten tackle before Luke Pigden curled a 20-yarder only just over the bar.
On 53 minutes Robson had to hoof away a dangerous cross into the goalmouth - and then Odanetey contrived to miss from a few yards out.
The Rocks’ first change - on 56 minutes - brought Ollie Pearce to the part in place of Hopkinson.
Whyte’s weaving run into the box ended with a low ball across the box that no-one could touch home.
A new corner routine came to nothing for the hosts on 59 minutes - Wills passing the ball back to Whyte outside the area and his low rive skimming just wide.
There were shoutrts for a Rocks free-kick when sub Pearce tumbled as he ran on to a long ball but play was waved on. Then Godfrey’s persistence down the right won a corner that came to nothing.
Carshalton were threatening and had the ball in the net on 64 minutes but Owusu’s close-range finish was ruled out for offside, to the great frutration of the visitors.
Wollers has been struggling with a groin injury for some months and has played more often than the Rocks would have liked, and it was no real surprise when he came off to be replaced by Dan Sackman with 22 minutes left.
Pigden was allowed too much space to run at the home defence on 70 minutes but his low effort was saved by a diving Zawadski.
Pearce set up Dodd with a square pass into the box but the striker scuffed his shot and it was comfortably gathered by McEntegart.
There was a quarter-of-an-hour left when Dodd won a hotly-contested free-kick down the right. The dead ball was touched to him but he fired well wide.
The Carshalton pressure had been growing and they were level again on 78 minutes when sub Butterworth was played through the middle and drew Zawadski before sliding a cool finish past him and into the bottom corner.
Athletic then made another change - Joe Nwoko coming on for Owusu.
Carshalton weren’t content with a point and were still doing most of the attacking. They won a corner off Sackman but Zawadski was fouled as it came in.
But they did get their noses in front four minutes from time when Odanetey turned in Tommy Bradford’s cross from the left from close range - leaving more question marks over the hosts’ ability to defend.
Jamie Howell’s men had a chance to salvage a point when they won a free-kick wide on the right in the last minute of the 90 in an incident that led to Moraes being booked. The delivery was good but Carshalton defended it resolutely and the chance was gone.
Deep into what turned out to be five minutes of injury time, with the Rocks commiting men forward, Bradford turned from provider to scorer to wrap up the points with Carshalton’s fourth from close in, enough to send a number of the home fans heading for the exits on a gloomy night for their team.
Rocks: Zawadski, Crane, Wollers, Tuck, Axten, Robson, Hopkinson, Wills, Dodd, Whyte, Godfrey. Subs: Marzetti, Pearce, Sackman, Kempson.
Carshalton: McEntegart, Goodman, O’Toole, Males, Rowe, Moraes, Bradford, Pidgen, Owusu, Woodley, Odanetey. Subs: Nwoko, Butterworth, Vidal, Thompson, Price.
Ref: William Bull (Winchester)