Little Common Football Club suffered an agonising late defeat in its first ever FA Cup match today (Saturday).
The Commoners conceded a 92nd minute goal to lose 2-1 against their new landlords Eastbourne United AFC in an extra preliminary round tie which they led with 15 minutes of normal time to go.
It was a terrific effort from last season’s Macron Store Southern Combination Football League Division One runners-up Common against an Eastbourne team which finished seventh in the Premier Division.
Common player-manager Russell Eldridge included summer signings Sam Ellis, Lewis Parsons, Jerome Smith and Liam Ward in his starting line-up, as well as Wes Tate, who had played just 45 minutes in pre-season following an ankle ligament injury.
Eastbourne hit the woodwork twice in the opening 16 minutes. Adil Salih firstly rattled the crossbar with a splendid 25-yard free kick, then Adebola Sotoyinbo struck the outside of the near post from the right-hand side of the box having skipped past Eldridge.
Other than one timely Eldridge intervention, there was little goalmouth incident during the rest of the first half. Although Common offered little going forward, they looked comfortable defensively as they allowed Eastbourne to have the ball at the back but made themselves difficult to play through.
Common broke the stalemate with a lovely goal from Harry Saville in the fourth minute of the second period. A neat move started by goalkeeper Matt Cruttwell which also involved Ward, Louis Walker and Ellis ended with the ball rebounding out to Saville, who curled a delightful shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Eastbourne were whiskers away from equalising six minutes later. The impressive Kane Penn unleashed a shot from the edge of the area which crashed against the underside of the crossbar and bounced down the right side of the line as far as Common were concerned.
Eastbourne continued to enjoy most of the possession, but were still finding it difficult to break down Common, who fashioned a couple of half-chances on the break. Tate fired over from outside the box and an Ellis header - after Lewis Hole did well to hook the ball across from near the corner flag - was held by Eastbourne goalkeeper Phil Hawkins.
Moments after making their second substitution, Eastbourne equalised in the 77th minute. A low ball in from their right arrived at the feet of Penn, who drilled home a low shot from just outside the area.
With Eastbourne having struck the frame of the goal on three occasions, it was Common’s turn to hit the woodwork in the 87th minute. Jared Lusted received a Smith throw-in and advanced forward before unleashing a 30-yard thunderbolt which smacked against the crossbar.
Eastbourne forward Lucas Mann couldn’t direct an instinctive effort on target as the clock ticked down and with thoughts turning towards a potential replay, Eastbourne grabbed a well-worked winner in the second minute of added time.
Peter Cooper played a lovely little ball round the corner to release Sotoyinbo on the left and his low cross was perfect for Ashley Jarvis to turn home from close range.
Eldridge wasn’t far away with an audacious effort straight from the resulting kick-off, but it was Eastbourne who advanced to a preliminary round tie away to Chatham Town or Littlehampton Town on August 19.
The game was played in bright sunshine and ended just before a torrential downpour hit The Oval which would’ve drenched many spectators as they left the ground.
Common: Cruttwell, Walker, J. Smith, Ward, Parsons, Eldridge, Saville (Lusted 84), Tate (Wells 90+2), Hole, Ellis, A. Smith (Crone 73). Subs not used: Bristow, Maynard.